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THE FLOWER OF EVIL
aka LA FLEUR DU MAL
USA: Palm Pictures
Cast: Nathalie Baye, Benoît Magimel, Suzanne Flon, Bernard Lecoq, Melanie Doutey, Thomas Chabrol, Kevin Ahyi, Henri Attal, Caroline Baehr, Didier Benureau, Françoise Bertin, JerOme Bertin, Yvon Crenn, Michele Dascain, Marius de Laage, Jean-Marc Druet, Michel Herbault, Edmond Kastelnik, François Maistre, Isabelle Mamere, Jean-Pierre Marin, Juliette Meyniac, Lea Pellepaut, Yves Pignot, Dominique Pivain, Valerie Rojan
Director: Claude Chabrol
Language: French (English subtitles)
USA & UK: 104 mins
UK Certificate: 15 contains infrequent strong language and adult themes
USA Release Date: 10 October 2003 (Limited Release)
USA Release Date: 2 July 2004
A young bourgeois, François Vasseur, returns home to the Bordeaux region of France after spending four years practicing law in America. His father, Gerard, picks him up at the airport and shows him a city that has changed little in his absence, save for the modernized local pharmacy, where Gerard maintains a medical laboratory. François learns that his stepmother, Anne Charpin-Vasseur, has been active in local politics during his absence. Much to Gerard's dismay, his wife is a candidate in the mayoral election.
François (Benoît Magimel) and Gerard (Bernard Lecoq) join the rest of the Charpin-Vasseurs at the family residence outside Bordeaux, owned by Anne's (Nathalie Baye) elderly Aunt Line (Suzanne Flon), who has prepared a lavish feast to honor François' return home. He's reunited with his first cousin, Michele (Melanie Doutey), a college student who also happens to be his step-sister: Michele's mother, Anne, married François' father after a car accident killed each one's former spouse. François, who's unusually close to Michele, confesses to her in private that he left Bordeaux to study in America because he felt they were getting too close.
Anne, meanwhile, prepares to campaign for the mayoral elections, visiting a local housing project where she's met with disdain or indifference by her constituents. Flyers have been circulated around town attempting to discredit Anne and her family with scandalous rumours about her mother, who killed her collaborationist father during World War II after the father killed Line's beloved brother, with who she was unusually close.
Gerard, meanwhile, engages in extramarital affairs with female patients in his private medical laboratory above the pharmacy. François and Michele elect to travel to the coast, to Aunt Line's beach house, where they can get reacquainted in private. Line, meanwhile, slips into reverie about her scandalous past.
Line and Michele conspire to discover who's been circulating the malicious flyers - both suspect Gerard, who secretly casts a ballot on election day against his own wife. Tension mounts at an election night party as the votes are tabulated. Anne wins the election as tragedy strikes at the Charpin-Vasseur family home. Line and Michele scramble to cover up an accidental death before Anne returns home with an entourage of revellers, ready to celebrate her mayoral win. Quietly, Line celebrates her own reversal of fortune, and her newfound freedom from a lineage that has haunted her for decades.