Sunday, March 11, 2018

L'Enfance du Mal (2010), or Sweet Evil, a twisted, convoluted tale of misandry told with admirable brevity

This is a French film, and therefore the unexpected is to be expected. There is the delinquent under-aged teenager, who cleverly traps a wanderer, a fellow-teenage conspirator and boyfriend and an overaged judge. She has a sad story to tell, especially to the judge and his wife, which changes in details. The judge believes in law and rules, and he is aware that all that one can do while delivering a judgment is to be as fair as possible. His wife is the daughter of a clockmaker and she fixes clocks and she is a member of an association which fights for the rights of women. There is the usual sense of European loneliness beneath the orderly life in the judge's house and the teenage intruder causes enough ripples right from the beginning. The girl's mother is in prison. The girls wants to get her out.
Director Olivier Coussemacq handles the narration with great dexterity. It is supple and there are moments of psychological violence which are kept on leash.
Anais Demoustier plays the role of the young girl, Celine, Pascal Greggory is the judge and Ludmila Mikael, the judge's wife. It is the tense interactions among the three that holds this 120-minute plus movie. There is also an underlying theme of misandry but a triumphant one at that. At each stage, the girl outguns the men through sheer cunning and subterfuge. This is indeed the interesting part of the movie. But it is never out in the open. One can infer it only after seeing the movie and ponder over it.
It is a crime thriller in one sense, but there is the complexity of the social situation, the war of the classes and the sexes.
This movie was shown at the Bombay International Film Festival in 2010, and it has done the festival circuit, including Karlovy Vary. 

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