FEMMES FATALES -- Key, Georgetown

I don't want my man to see this film. It will tell him just what he wants to hear about liberated women.

In "Femmes Fatales" French director Bertrand Blier portrays liberated women as insatiable, castrating bitches. What really comes across is that men are afraid to confront the New Woman, and find themselves lacking. So they run away to the tree house, like Dennis the Menace hiding from Margaret. What they need to do now is come out and play.

Of course, "Femmes Fatales" is farce and executed with such Gallic dryness that you can't help laughing. But the notion of women's assertiveness being emasculating isn't funny. It's like being held down and tickled.

In "Femmes Fatales," Blier's ongoing cinematic battle of the sexes escalates into a full-scale war. In his earlier "Going Places" (on the same bill), copulation is the key, as Blier's two thugs, Patrick Dewaere and Gerald Depardieu (the two schnooks in "Get Out Your Handkerchiefs") roam the countryside brutally raping women. In "Femmes Fatales," celibacy is what the men seek as they try to escape the fair sex.

The apt team of a gynecologist and a pimp (Jean-Pierre Marielle and Jean Rochefort) overdose on ovaries and head for the hills so they can cook, fish, and slop around in old clothes. Blier implies that they can't do any of these things with women since they only think of women in sexual terms. Overtaken by a troop of khaki-clad rifle-toting sabras, Rochefort laments, "Whatever happened to high heels, low-cut dresses and cigarette holders?"

Finally, the men are returned to domestic captivity. But not for long. Demanding women drive them away again. In an absurd twist, men across the nation take up the rallying cry "Nix Copuli" and flee en masse. After an army of sex-starved women captures the two heroes they are drugged and forced to service countless females in a kind of fornication factory. Blier then abandons all logic in a bizarre Bunuel-like ending where the men's fear of being sexually devoured by women is substantiated.

Go away, Blier and leave us alone. We women are having a tough enough time as it is trying to teach men to stop worrying and love the womens' movement. If we continue to fight your battle of the sexes, we're all losers.