‘Femme’ Review – Flamboyant Retribution

George MacKay and Nathan Stewart-Jarrett as Preston and Jules in Femme.

Femme introduces audiences to Jules (Nathan Stewart-Jarrett, Candyman 2021) who is a performing drag queen that is stripped, beaten, and bloodied solely because he’s homosexual. Three months after surviving the attack, he’s given up drag for good and is afraid to leave the house. Encouraged by his best friend and roommate Toby (John McCrea, Cruella) to get back out there, Jules finally goes out to a gay sauna wherein, by chance, he sees his attacker Preston (George MacKay, 1917), which is when Jules begins plotting his revenge.

Jules (Nathan Stewart-Jarrett) as his drag persona Aphrodite in Femme.

Femme is based on a 2021 short film of the same name by co-writers and co-directors Sam H. Freeman and Ng Coon Phan. The film’s story is a mess, albeit a riveting one. Jules begins seeing Preston, but you will know why once he returns home and opens his laptop. His plan is ruthless and would destroy Preston emotionally, as his so-called friends would probably never call or talk to him again. It’s a deserved outcome for Jules, but watching the film unfold and seeing if he’s going to go through with it is part of what makes Femme so gripping.

From the film’s start, the audience knows that Preston is at least interested in men. He’s checking Jules out from across the street before the beating. He’s a closeted gay who keeps his sexuality so far away from his friends that they have no idea. Quick-tempered and dominating, Preston keeps seeing Jules as a way to get off at first, but it slowly becomes more than that the longer it goes on.

As a thriller, Femme is a complicated watch. There’s a lot of sex in the film: holes and shafts presumably being spit on and countless scenes of thrusting and wet slapping noises. But nothing graphic is shown on-screen apart from the side of someone’s butt cheek. It’s necessary in a way, but it’s also a bit confusing. Once you know what Jules’ motives are, you wonder why he keeps returning to his attacker. Preston then meets Jules’ friends, and they’re on the verge of becoming a legit couple, and then the ending rolls around.

Jules realizes that he can achieve a thin layer of revenge or a legitimate annihilation of Preston from the inside out if he plays his cards right. Jules eventually goes for a cutthroat strategy that takes longer and requires more effort. Overall, seeing Preston so often with the same sensual result repeatedly seems unnecessary, and maybe it’s not. But that attachment aspect is crucial; physically, mentally, and emotionally. Even if Preston thinks and acts like he’s in control, Jules needs to have him in the palm of his hand.

Nathan Stewart-Jarrett and George MacKay as Jules and Preston in Femme.

In Femme, Jules describes drag as his true self. As Aphrodite (his drag persona), he feels pure, open, and free, but it’s as if he’s putting on the costume to be Jules. Femme doesn’t portray drag as some metamorphosis. It’s life without restraint or judgment. Jules may get naked countless times throughout the film, but Aphrodite is his natural form.

It’s fascinating that Jules has to build himself back toward drag to his natural self while Preston consistently hides away from everyone. He surrounds himself with these false shackles that tether him to a heterosexual life that isn’t him. Preston is essentially a sheep in wolf’s clothing. He is slowly coming to terms with being homosexual and his relationship with Jules being a severe aspect of his life. It’s one of the things that makes the ending so devastating.

George MacKay and Nathan Stewart-Jarrett as Preston and Jules in Femme.

Femme is a knockout thriller with some killer performances. As Preston, George MacKay is loud and violent, but also clearly disguising himself. As Jules, Nathan Stewart-Jarrett has his life shattered but the way he pieces it back together is both cunning and unsettling. Who is dominating whom in Femme, and how that unravels, is nightmarishly tense and overwhelmingly thought-provoking.

NEXT: ‘Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire’ Review – Balderdash Of The Titans 

Femme (2024), Utopia



  • Spectacular performances.


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