Review of ‘The Origin of Evil’: daddy issues | ET REALITY


Think “Clue” on the French coast, add a touch of sleaze, ramp up the queerness, and you get “Dawn of Evil,” a malicious thriller about the family fortune from writer-director Sébastien Marnier.

When her landlady fires her, Stéphane (Laure Calamy), a sardine cannery worker, contacts her estranged father, Serge (Jacques Weber), an extravagantly wealthy restaurateur in the vein of “Succession’s” Logan Roy. Like Logan, Serge is fed up with his parasitic relatives, and behind his portly, sick grandfather appearance lies the savagery of the old-fashioned alpha dog.

Serge’s relatives, however, are nothing like Roy’s inept children: there is his ice queen daughter, George (Doria Tillier), who manages his businesses; his wife, Louise (Dominique Blanc), an impeccably coiffed, Gloria Swanson-esque wife; and the stone maiden, Agnès (Véronique Ruggia Saura).

These ladies aren’t fooled when mousy Stéphane arrives at the family’s island mansion claiming he wants nothing more than to spend time with dad. Stéphane may be looking for a piece of Serge’s fortune, but so is everyone else. Marnier captures these power plays by framing the characters in fun Brian De Palma-style split screens.

On the mainland, Stéphane makes routine visits to his imprisoned girlfriend, whom he keeps spellbound with sexual favors. Her loyalty, touching at first, becomes increasingly questionable.

Marnier upsets the balance of likability when Serge’s misogynistic and mean-spirited streak becomes evident. As gross as they are, Stéphane’s evil stepmother and sister are worth rooting for. A tremendous Calamy (from “Full Time” and the television series “Call My Agent!”) is central to the film’s gripping uncertainty.

Filled with unlikeable women, “Dawn of Evil” could easily have been crushed under the weight of a feminist lens. Untethered by such clear messages, this decadent murder movie takes the online credo, “be gay, commit crimes” and runs with it, with delicious results.

The origin of evil
Not qualified. In French, with subtitles. Duration: 2 hours 5 minutes. On cinemas.

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