Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBB.
Original title: La Fleur Du Mal
France, 2003. MK2 Productions, France 3 Cinéma, Canal+, Conseil Régional d’Aquitaine, Procirep. Adaptation and dialogue by Claude Chabrol, based on a scenario by Caroline Eliacheff, Louise L. Lambriche. Cinematography by Eduardo Serra. Produced by Marin Karmitz. Music by Matthieu Chabrol. Production Design by Francoise Benoit-Fresco. Costume Design by Mic Cheminal. Film Editing by Monique Fardoulis. Berlin Film Festival 2003.
Claude Chabrol once again investigates crime among the bourgeoisie in this turgid drama. Nathalie Baye and Bernard Le Coq play the heads of a successful Bordeaux family whose family tree is a complicated mess of scandals and affairs that don’t seem likely to go away anytime soon. Their son (Benoît Magimel) has just returned after three years in America, and has come to reunite with his stepsister (Mélanie Doutey), with whom he is in love, and support Baye in her new career as a local mayoral candidate. Her career is threatened when a tract begins to circulate about a murder scandal in their family’s past, touching off a series of deep reminiscences by their loving elderly aunt (Suzanne Flon) and bringing up shades of suspicion against Le Coq, whose jealousy of his wife might be fueling the whole affair. Chabrol’s judgment of the upper classes as being corrupt at the core is the kind of storytelling we’ve come to expect from him, but the narrative in La Ceremonie was much more involving than this strangely shallow film. Performances are excellent, but Baye should have been given more screen time and Magimel and Doutey’s flimsy love affair should have taken up less.