Director: Sebastien Marnier | Script: Sebastien Marnier, Fanny Burdino | Cast: Laure Calamy, Dominique Blanc, Jacques Weber, Doria Tillier, Suzanne Clément, Véronique Ruggia, Céleste Brunnquell, others | Time to play: 125 minutes | Year: 2022
Most family stories are about their value. Fortunately, there are also writers who talk about the downside. In The origin of evil a character says that he doesn’t like the family; that is the poison that runs through your veins since you were born. It’s not entirely clear how this theme fits into the plot, but that’s not a major flaw: this tasty thriller shows that femmes fatales aren’t out of the world yet.
Heart pounding in her throat, a woman calls a number and this time she manages not to hang up. The woman on the other end of the line is already suspicious and passes the phone to her husband: “I think she is your daughter.” The filthy rich and now ill Serge has had several affairs during his marriage and in any case he had an illegitimate son named Stéphane. He receives a tepid welcome at Serge’s gigantic villa. But there is something fishy about this meeting, on both sides.
There is certainly more information to be found on this. The origin of evil. A quick look at IMDb can mess up a thing or two. The less you know in advance, the better. The Origin of Evil may be an exaggerated title, but it certainly is a mysterious and suspenseful thriller with some devious twists.
The title is also a bit dark, because it has quite a bit of humor. For example, Serge’s sweet but crazy wife, Louise, who constantly orders deals on TV to annoy her husband. There’s character drama in it, but it’s mostly a joke so as not to make the atmosphere too bleak.
Louise is the most beautiful character. She’s a cool frog that Stéphane would rather not have on the ground, but when she’s there she completely puts herself in her shoes as a woman who has had to wait until middle age to meet her father. She knows that she was too much of a coward to leave Serge, but now she rebels against him by spending her money.
The prodigal daughter herself is also a figure apart. As an actress, Laure Calamy has a problem with this role, because she is a complex character who has to reveal a different side of herself several times, but at the same time she has to have all these traits in him from the beginning. She accomplishes this by taking the viewer through different stages of engagement.
The unraveling of the mystery has a smooth pace. Before it gets boring or slow, the next reveal comes into play. Once all the cards have been played, there is only room for one thrilling climax, and it comes at exactly that moment. It’s just that the last act lasts too long.
One then plays safe for the first time. The origin of evil you’ve carved razor-sharp ends, but you want to flatten them all neatly into a well-behaved whole in which nothing is left open to your own interpretation. When it’s finally done, thankfully there won’t be any more explanations. That saves the movie from destruction, even though there’s little doubt where the open ending leads.
It feels like an old thriller, a mysterious story about characters with secrets. It’s been a while since a movie like this has been made, at least well executed as is the case here. Many classic elements are present: a large island villa only reachable by boat, eccentric wealthy characters, and even a lazy butler (not a man this time). The American remake will probably not be long in coming.