8½ Women

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8½ Women
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Peter Greenaway
Produced by Kees Kasander
Written by Peter Greenaway
Music by Frank Loesser
Giuseppe Verdi
Cinematography Reinier van Brummelen
Sacha Vierny
Edited by Elmer Leupen
Distributed by Lions Gate Films
Release date
  • 22 May 1999 (1999-05-22) (Cannes)
  • 10 December 1999 (1999-12-10) (United Kingdom)
  • 6 January 2000 (2000-01-06) (Netherlands)
  • 26 May 2000 (2000-05-26) (United States)
Running time
118 minutes
Country United Kingdom
Language English
Box office $424,123[1]

8½ Women is a 1999 comedy-drama film written and directed by Peter Greenaway, and starring John Standing, Matthew Delamere, and Vivian Wu. The international co-production (the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, and Germany) was entered into the 1999 Cannes Film Festival.[2]


After the death of his wife Amelia, wealthy businessman Philip Emmenthal (John Standing) and his son Storey (Matthew Delamere) open their own private harem in their family residence in Geneva. They get the idea while watching Federico Fellini's and after Storey is "given" a woman, Simato (Shizuka Inoh), to waive her pachinko debts. They sign one-year contracts with eight (and a half) women to this effect.

The women each have a gimmick (one is a nun, another a kabuki performer, etc.). Philip soon becomes dominated by his favorite of the concubines, Palmira (Polly Walker), who has no interest in Storey as a lover, despite what their contract might stipulate. Philip dies, the concubines' contracts expire, and Storey is left alone with Giulietta (the titular "½") and of course the money and the houses.

While the film deals with and graphically describes diverse sexual acts in conversation, the film does not feature any sex scenes as such.



8½ Women received mixed to negative reviews; it holds a 41% rating on Rotten Tomatoes,[3] the film is currently Greenaway's lowest-rated film on the site.[4] On Metacritic, which uses an average of critics' reviews, the film has 36/100, indicating "generally unfavorable reviews".[5]

The film opened at the box office at #50 with $92,000[6] and grossed $424,123 domestically.[1]


External links[edit]