3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Actually the flower is not so evil,
This review is from: Flower of Evil [DVD]  [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC] (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.
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.