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The Flower of Evil

3.9 out of 5 stars 14 customer reviews

Additional DVD options Edition Discs
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(Apr 20, 2004)
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Editorial Reviews

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 light.
Genre: Foreign Film - French
Rating: R
Release Date: 20-APR-2004
Media Type: DVD

Special Features


Product Details

  • Actors: Nathalie Baye, Benoît Magimel, Suzanne Flon, Mélanie Doutey, Bernard Le Coq
  • Directors: Claude Chabrol
  • Writers: Claude Chabrol, Caroline Eliacheff, Louise L. Lambrichs
  • Producers: Marin Karmitz, Yvon Crenn
  • Format: Color, Dolby, Subtitled, Widescreen, NTSC
  • Language: French
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: R (Restricted)
  • Studio: Lions Gate
  • DVD Release Date: April 20, 2004
  • Run Time: 104 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0001EFV9A
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #141,504 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "The Flower of Evil" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: DVD
What saves this film--noticeably weaker than a number of other Chabrol efforts--is the acting. Veteran actress Natalie Baye is superb here, as is the actress playing her Aunt Line, Suzanne Flon. Also notable are Benoit Magimel and Melanie Doutey as the two young lovers.
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.
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Format: DVD
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.
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Comment 8 of 9 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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Format: DVD
Overall, The Flower of Evil was a very entertaining movie, but I couldn't have helped and become a little disappointed because of the fantastic trailer. The film was advertised as a very complicated, complex mystery, but it was actually quite simple. The story was a very good one, intriguing and exciting, but it seemed like the writer didn't have any ideas on how to flesh it out and add some mystery to it.

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.
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