Wednesday, September 27, 2023

Deception looms large in ‘Origin of Evil’

 Origin of Evil, director Sebastien Marnier's twisted thriller, held me in its grip until the very end,  a harsh conclusion to a movie that had been running on juices thick with deception and betrayal. Some time after her mother's death, Stephanie (Laure Calamy) reconnects with the father she has never met. Turns out he's a wealthy restaurateur who lives in a mansion. Stephanie works in a cannery and has no prospects beyond a life of hard scrabble scrambling. Dad, as it turns out, has suffered a stroke and is being tyrannized by a daughter (Doria Tillier) who has taken charge of the family business and a wife (Dominique Blanc) who spends her time filling the house with needless junk she buys online. A sourpuss maid (Veronique Ruggia Saura) couldn't be less ingratiating. Stephanie slowly develops a relationship with her father, who sees her as an ally in the fight against the women who dominate his house. Stephanie also visits a former lover, a woman serving a prison sentence for murder. No fair telling more but Marnier keeps us guessing as he navigates treacherous familial terrain. As I said, I was with this one until the very end -- which I found to be a little too pat for a movie that, for most of its running time, has plenty of intriguingly perverse kick.

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