The Flower of Evil The discreet stink of the bourgeoisie perfumes the wonderfully mordant, dry-eyed family saga, The Flower of Evil . Claude Chabrol introduces three generations of an… The Flower of Evil The discreet stink of the bourgeoisie perfumes the wonderfully mordant, dry-eyed family saga, The Flower of Evil . Claude Chabrol introduces three generations of an… 2003-10-10 PT105M Drama Nathalie Baye Melanie Doutey Suzanne Flon Benoit Magimel Palm Pictures
Movie Review

The Flower of Evil (2003)

Benoit Magimel, Melanie Doutey, ... | LE FLEUR DE LIES Magimel (left) and Doutey find family ties hard to swallow in Charbol's ''Evil''
LE FLEUR DE LIES Magimel (left) and Doutey find family ties hard to swallow in Charbol's ''Evil''
EW's GRADE
B+

Details Limited Release: Oct 10, 2003; Length: 105 Minutes; Genre: Drama; With: Nathalie Baye; Distributor: Palm Pictures

The discreet stink of the bourgeoisie perfumes the wonderfully mordant, dry-eyed family saga, The Flower of Evil. Claude Chabrol introduces three generations of an upstanding provincial French family, and then watches, poker-faced, as rot from the sins of the elders (including but not limited to murder and Nazi sympathizing) works its way through the family tree. There's a genteel old lady (veteran Suzanne Flon, from Orson Welles' ''The Trial''), who has been keeping secrets for decades; her dauntingly efficient middle-aged niece, Anne (''Venus Beauty Institute'''s Nathalie Baye), who is campaigning to become the local mayor with Hillary Clinton-forged steeliness; Anne's snaky second husband/second cousin, Gérard (Bernard Le Coq); and Anne's unsettled daughter (Mélanie Doutey), who is in love with Gérard's restless son (''The Piano Teacher'''s Benoît Magimel). Nothing good can come from this overwatered lot; nothing does. Yet Chabrol, who untangled twisted emotional roots in ''La Cérémonie,'' nurses the story with such cold delight that even when the plot gets overgrown with accident and coincidence, a compelling odor of moral decay hangs in the air.

Originally posted Sep 12, 2003 Published in issue #733 Oct 17, 2003 Order article reprints