– VENICE 2022: In this rococo thriller by Sébastien Marnier, Laure Calamy seeks to join a family of French Trumps
from left to right: Laure Calamy, Doria Tillier, Dominique Blanc, Céleste Brunnquell and Véronique Ruggia in The origin of evil
A kitsch yet sordid thriller that gets you hooked and dulls your critical thinking is always welcome at a major festival, even if there are more genre films, no matter how uplifting or artistic. The Origin of Evil [+lire aussi :
fiche film] of Sebastien Marnier seems to belong to the category of TV movie that one could have watched half asleep, at the end of the evening, before the appearance of streaming, perhaps after having missed the beginning, thus forcing you to remain glued to your screen until the end, it doesn’t matter if your eyes close on their own. Or, to be less flattering, it looks like the kind of express, undemanding, light-hearted entertainment you watch on an airplane to kill time.
Back to the Venice Film Festivalbut this time in the Orizzonti Extra section, after selecting Exit time [+lire aussi :
interview : Sébastien Marnier
fiche film] in the Sconfini section, The Origin of Evil could be described as a “futile thriller”. And even if Hitchcock, and later François Ozon sometimes specialized in this genre, Marnier’s film cannot tame the contradictory nature of this style. The other point in common with the rest of the French thrillers is its casualness with regard to parody and quotation, where it is difficult to distinguish borrowings from overt thefts. The script is suspected to be, in many ways, close to the design and plot of the Knives Out by Rian Johnson, even if the path in which Marnier finally leads us is more cruel and inhuman, and leaves a more lasting aftertaste.
Laura Calamy, one of the most brilliant French actresses of the moment, camped Stéphane. This elusive woman, a worker in a cannery, aspires to a promotion. In the first scenes, which it is important not to fully reveal to future viewers, she divides her time between visits to the parlor that she pays to her companion, an unstable woman (Suzanne Clement) and the timid forays she makes into the biological family she has just learned of after discovering the identity of her father at the start of the film. In a happy combination of circumstances, Serge (Jacques Weber), the patriarch, is a local real estate tycoon who runs a chain of hotels bearing his name (you can feel Marnier nudging you, as if he literally stepped off the screen). Indeed, it even seems that he and Stéphane first met in a golf clubhouse.
Once in his very flashy, nouveau-riche-style abode, Stéphane has to deal with icy introductions with his daughter George (Doria Tiller), who gradually takes control of the family empire and literally throws in her face that she is not welcome, but also with Louise (Dominique White), his wife, a haughty and vain woman. Blanc’s carefree attitude allows his character to become, for the public, a point of identification in the same way as Stéphane. She breaks the sexist archetype of the “diamond digger” and reinvents it to make it her own way of happily taking advantage of wealthy people.
Title the film The Origin of Evil is an unconvincing decoy. It asks us to draw a moral from how the story views the characters, when what we see of human nature is obviously cynically pessimistic. And as Stéphane’s motivations become clearer, and despite Calamy’s considerable efforts, the description of the character as it appears in the script does not allow him to play and therefore convince us of his changes of character. opinion and its inconstancy. Marnier seeks to create something close to Ceremony of Chabrol; but he adds a sweetener to it, when it should be arsenic instead.
The Origin of Evil is a Franco-Canadian co-production by Avenue B Productions and Micro_scope. International sales are handled by Charades.
(Translated from English by Karine Breysse)