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The Flower of Evil
The Flower of Evil
Actors: Nathalie Baye, Benoît Magimel, Suzanne Flon, Mélanie Doutey, Bernard Le Coq
Director: Claude Chabrol
Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama, Mystery & Suspense
R     2004     1hr 44min

A seemingly respectible and distinguished family's foundations begin to crack after one of its members decides to run for mayor, a body turns up in their home, and all the family's secrets and criminal activities come to l...  more »


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Movie Details

Actors: Nathalie Baye, Benoît Magimel, Suzanne Flon, Mélanie Doutey, Bernard Le Coq
Director: Claude Chabrol
Creators: Eduardo Serra, Claude Chabrol, Monique Fardoulis, Marin Karmitz, Yvon Crenn, Caroline Eliacheff, Louise L. Lambrichs
Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama, Mystery & Suspense
Sub-Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama, Mystery & Suspense
Studio: Lions Gate
Format: DVD - Color,Widescreen - Subtitled
DVD Release Date: 04/20/2004
Release Year: 2004
Run Time: 1hr 44min
Screens: Color,Widescreen
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 1
MPAA Rating: R (Restricted)
Languages: French
Subtitles: English

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Movie Reviews

Actually the flower is not so evil
Dennis Littrell | SoCal | 01/30/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)

"This is a pleasant film by Claude Chabrol, nothing like the forbidding title "La Fleur du Mal" would suggest. I say pleasant in that there is nothing gross or ugly about it or really shocking, and it ends in a way that most viewers would find agreeable. There is some dark suggestion of family evil and a kind of playful non-incest and some skeletons in the closet from the Nazi occupation and one dead man at the end, but otherwise this is almost a comedy.

It is not, however, in my opinion his best work, but is very representative. My favorite Chabrol film is Une affaire de femmes (1988) starring Isabelle Huppert and Francois Cluzet. I also liked La Cérémonie (1995) featuring Sandrine Bonnaire, Isabelle Huppert and Jacqueline Bisset. Both of these are much darker works than The Flower of Evil.

As in many Chabrol films this starts slowly but manages to be interesting thanks to some veracious color and characterization blended with a hint of the tension to come. And then, also characteristic of Chabrol, there is a interesting finish.

Nathalie Baye plays Anne Charpin-Vasseur, who in her fifties decides to run for mayor. Her philandering husband Gérard (Bernard Le Coq) is not pleased. Benoit Magimel plays the prodigal son Francois Vasseur, just home after four years in the US, while Melanie Doutey plays his non-biological sister Michele. Francois apparently ran away to the States to cool his growing attraction to Michele (to her disappointment). Now on his return their love blooms.

This is very much approved of by Aunt Line (played wonderfully well with spry energy by Suzanne Flon who was 85 years old when the film was made). Their affair reminds her of her youth, a mixed blessing since she lived through some horrors.

The main plot concerns the opposition that Anne is getting as she runs for mayor. A leaflet accusing the family of collaboration with the Nazis during WWII is distributed that threatens to derail her campaign.

See this for one of France's great ladies of both film and the theater, Suzanne Flon, who died last year after a career than spanned five decades."
Chabrol watching the flowers grow
Trevor Willsmer | London, England | 12/04/2006
(3 out of 5 stars)

"La Fleur du Mal aka The Flower of Evil isn't quite Chabrol on auto-pilot, but he's clearly more interested in the usual bourgeois side issues than the identity of the author of an anonymous leaflet that threatens Natalie Baye's campaign to become mayor of a small town by raking over the coals of the family's history of murder and Nazi collaboration. History is obviously going to repeat itself, but there's no sense of impending dread, merely a feeling that Chabrol has left himself too little time to remember the plot and wrap it up. Thus we get a somewhat hurried finale that feels practically like an afterthought - you can almost imagine him looking at his watch and thinking "Is that the time? I'd better kill someone so we can all go home." It's at its best dealing with local politics and petty ambitions on the campaign trail, and Baye and Suzanne Flon have the best of the film, but Chabrol's reunion with La Ceremonie scripter Caroline Eliacheff seems far more a time-filler than an essential."
"Everything's a secret here"
M. B. Alcat | Los Angeles, California | 12/13/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)

""The flower of evil" (= "La fleur du mal"), directed by Claude Chabrol, is centered on an upper middle-class family, the Charpin-Vasseurs. This family seems perfect but has dark and deep secrets, as seen from the very first scenes of this movie. What is wrong with the members of this family? Chabrol's mission is to make us care about the answer to this question...

The story begins with a crime, and continues many years later, when Francois Vasseur (Benoît Magimel), returns home after spending four years in the United States. Gérard (Bernard Le Coq), his father, is happy to see Francois again, but disturbed by the fact that his wife Anne Charpin-Vasseur (Nathalie Baye) is involved in politics and running for mayor. Francois doesn't have a very good relationship with Gérard, but is pleased to see his stepmother Anne, his aunt Line (Suzanne Flon) and specially his stepsister and first cousin Michèle (Melanie Doutey).

Truth to be told, Francois left France because he had strong feelings towards Michèle, feelings she reciprocated. Is he now ready to act on those feelings? And what impact will that relationship have on the dynamics of his family, already disturbed by Anne's incursion into politics and old scandals that surface again? "The flower of evil" answers these questions, and tackles subjects such as the cyclical nature of life, the importance of secrecy in some lives, guilt and the need to keep up appearances ("il faut faire belle figure").

All in all, I think that this film will interest those who are fond of whodunnits, but that can also appreciate complex psychological studies that make a movie more interesting. Of course, recommended.

Belen Alcat"