The Origin of Evil (‘L’Origine du Mal’)

THRILLER; 2hr 3min (French with subtitles)

STARRING: Laure Calamy, Dominique Blanc, Doria Tillier, Jacques Weber, Céleste Brunnquell, Véronique Ruggia, Suzanne Clément

Family dynamic: from left, Calamy, Tillier, Blanc, Brunnquell and Ruggia

Worker bee Stéphane Marson (Call My Agent! ’s Calamy) hardly has the world at her feet, marking time on a seafood packing plant production line between miserable visits to a lover (Clément) languishing in prison. Thankfully for her, when she works up the nerve to call him, Stéphane’s long-lost father (Weber as Serge) is stoked to meet her. Too bad the old man, filthy rich and conveniently ensconced in a seaside mansion of eye-popping opulence, also comes spring-loaded with complications galore in writer-director Sébastien Marnier’s snaky guessing game, whose every character is potentially up to something.


Laid low by a stroke, papa bear Serge is seemingly at the mercy of a singularly unappealing household: his shopaholic wife, Louise (Blanc), has packed the place with overpriced merch, his grasping daughter George (Tillier) is a storm cloud, his shutterbug granddaughter Jeanne (Brunnquell) click-click-clicks away and his housekeeper, Agnès (Ruggia), understandably appears to disapprove of them all. A lesser woman than Stéphane would probably have headed for the hills, easy street be damned. Not only is Stéphane emphatically not that woman, it’s increasingly unclear what type of woman she actually is.


In a perfectly skewed scenario, the twists work in tandem to an unforeseeable end. Marnier’s loopy reveals are progressively anarchic, their heavy lifting held together by a cool ensemble cast and Calamy’s pellucid appeal. Her winsome Stéphane is any man’s copybook daughter, even if that beau idéal could well be a siren song.