Combustible Celluloid
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With: Nathalie Baye, Benoît Magimel, Suzanne Flon, Bernard Le Coq, Mélanie Doutey, Thomas Chabrol, Caroline Baehr, Didier Bénureau and Françoise Bertin
Written by: Claude Chabrol, Caroline Eliacheff, Louise L. Lambrichs
Directed by: Claude Chabrol
MPAA Rating: R for brief language
Language: French with English subtitles
Running Time: 104
Date: 03/18/2013

The Flower of Evil (2003)

3 Stars (out of 4)

Bad Seeds

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

On the one hand, master French director Claude Chabrol has never made a clear landmark film, one that his admirers cherish above all the others. On the other hand, almost all of his 50-odd suspense films feature the same consistent excellence. And for those reasons, we tend to neglect him -- why catch the new Chabrol when there will be another one just as good next year? Even so The Flower of Evil is a must-see that kicks off with a lovely tracking shot ending on an unidentified corpse. Afterwards, we're treated to the soap opera-like story of an upper class political family whose matriarch (Nathalie Baye) is running for mayor. Her second husband's son (Benoit Magimel) is having an affair with her daughter (Malanie Doutey). (They're only marginally related.) And the aged auntie fights the demons of a decades-old secret. The picture wanders a bit, but every so often the master unleashes something very cool -- such as an ominous birdcage looming in the foreground -- that snaps us back in.

This review originally appeared in The San Francisco Examiner.

DVD Details: Lions Gate's DVD comes in French with optional English subtitles, plus a trailer.

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