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The Flower of Evil
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Genre: Foreign Film - French
Release Date: 20-APR-2004
Media Type: DVD
Top Customer Reviews
While the actors all turn in solid performances, the plotting and story leave something to be desired. Chabrol specializes in the corruption of the well-to-do and how the lower classes conflict with those above them. This conflict can result in superb filmmaking (La Ceremonie, La Rupture, Les Biches). But this film is decidedly lopsided; with its essentially single focus--corruption and guilt--it lacks the dramatic punch and juice found in the other films cited here.
One can explore these themes (guilt and corruption) and certainly generate a powerful piece of drama. But Chabrol seems to be comfortable when they are inextricably tied to class conflict and when they are not, as is true here, he does not dig deep enough to make these themes as strong as they should have been to elicit real emotional intensity. What we have instead is cinema that slickly skates on the surface of these two related issues--corruption and guilt--without really plunging into the basis, the repercussions, the intricate complications they can generate.
Without revealing too much, a woman running for mayor focuses on getting out the vote, while her lecherous husband goes after young women--two in particular. Meanwhile, the husband's son--recently returned from America--and the wife's daughter (the husband and wife are each on a second marriage; hence the two younger people are half-siblings) fall hard for each other. Add to that a dark secret the woman's aunt has kept to herself for decades and there's the elements of the plot.Read more ›
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.Read more ›
The Flower of Evil tells the tale of a French Bordeaux bourgeoisie family with a family tree like a Los Angeles freeway map and a history of evil doings which doesn't really have anything to do with anything. As this film rolls along with the day-to-day business of the mother running for local civic office while the step-sibs falling in love and granny putters around the garden, one can only wonder what, if anything, is being developed. When the end credits roll unexpectedly one can only wonder what Chabrol had in mind and why it was never really brought into clarity of fruition at the end. The wonderful story seems threadbare and almost nonexistant and the family history seems pointless.
I felt a bit cheated and let down when the film was over, but I wouldn't dismiss it because of that. I really enjoyed the superb acting by the top-notch cast, fine character development, and otherwise gripping story. Maybe some of the subtlety was just lost on me, but I liked the fact that you're never sure who's good or bad, and end up feeling for each character anyway. I am unfamiliar with any of Claude Chabrol's other works, but after seeing this film, I am definitely curious to check out some more. Not sure if I would recommend this, but personally, I thouroughly enjoyed it, as unsatisfying as it was.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Over the years, specially in his last stage, Claude Chabrol focused by revaling the existentail boredom in the upper class. Read morePublished on July 19, 2011 by Hiram Gòmez Pardo Venezuela
The Flower of Evil (Claude Chabrol, 2003)
Slow drama (listed as a drama/thriller at IMDB, but the "thriller" portion never emerges) about three generations of a... Read more
We are the eyes of the camera, moving from the dark shadows of trees, across a gravel driveway, through the entrance of a large house, past an open door where a maid is setting out... Read morePublished on June 15, 2007 by C. O. DeRiemer
"The flower of evil" (= "La fleur du mal"), directed by Claude Chabrol, is centered on an upper middle-class family, the Charpin-Vasseurs. Read morePublished on December 13, 2006 by B. Alcat
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... Read morePublished on December 4, 2006 by Trevor Willsmer
The end left me in the always uncomfortable, "that's really it?" zone?
But, I still really liked it: The french pacing. The odd Aunt Line. Read more
While there is not a lot of tension and suspense in this movie, it is a pleasure just to watch the acting. Every character is beautiful, even the aged Tante Line. Read morePublished on July 18, 2005 by Anne M. Marr
really good suspenseful movie that is more exciting than most american mystery movies, except for the a few hitchcock movies. Read morePublished on July 3, 2004 by adam
LA FLEUR DU MAL is Claude Chabrol at his best: this is a bizarre, convoluted French mystery told with such finesse and aplomb that it feels more like sitting down to fine French... Read morePublished on April 27, 2004 by Grady Harp