A financially precarious woman tries to reconnect with the now-wealthy father who abandoned her and his new family, in Sébastien Marnier’s suspenseful and melodramatic dark parable.
Contemporary World Cinema
The Origin of Evil
Writer-director Sébastien Marnier (Faultless, School’s Out) brings his now-signature brand of storytelling — offering a dark parable about modern life and (a)morality in the guise of a stylish thriller — to the deceptively sexy and searing The Origin of Evil.
The story follows Stéphane (Laure Calamy, Cesar winner for My Donkey, My Lover & I), a woman in her forties who lives in financial precarity working in a local fish canning factory. When her living situation takes a turn for the worse, she decides to get back in touch with her estranged father, Serge (Jacques Weber). Stéphane finds that, years after he abandoned her mother following an affair, Serge is an incredibly wealthy man with a massive estate, and is surrounded by women in his life who hate him and try to undermine her.
Stéphane reinvents herself as an entrepreneur in order to impress her new family, and attempts to ingratiate herself with Serge’s wife (Dominique Blanc) and stern oldest daughter (Doria Tillier), who remains deeply suspicious of Stéphane’s motives. As her visits to the estate are extended, Stéphane slowly realizes that Serge may not be the genial patriarch she thought he was, and her own past, one that she thought was locked away, is slowly catching up to her as well.
Aided by tour-de-force performances from the ensemble cast, including Suzanne Clément in a pivotal role, Marnier expertly combines the dread of psychological horror with the breakneck plot twists and reversals of fortune of high melodrama. The Origin of Evil is an exhilarating skewering of the decadent excesses of the aristocratic class and those who aspire to be among them.