French director Olivier Coussemacq has debuted with a psychological thriller about a 15-year-old girl who imposes upon an older married couple. Is it mere chance that has brought her to the home of Judge van Eyck and his wife?
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The original title is "L'enfance du mal", something like "The infancy of evil", minding that "mal" in French has a wider spectrum of meaning. In English you can only use evil, since bad often means "good", like in "so bad", "bad ass", etc. In French you say "I have bad in my tummy". And it's the same word for "not too good" and "evil". The English title made me think of 2005 Hard Candy, a double session would work.
Most home invasion stories are parables about class warfare, except for unorthodox, avant-garde, idiosyncratic gems like Pasolini's Theorem. Coussemacq adds a dash of revenge to spice up the recipe to this prequel to Dans la Maison. Alas, L'Enfance du Mal - a truly unfortunate title - never rises above the level of mediocrity. In the hands of a different director (Houellebecq?), this could have become a classic.
I almost enjoyed understanding the dynamics of the manipulations going on but I had to force myself to tolerate and try to identify with the girl and the judge, which was laborious. The wife was the only character I liked.
C'est dommage, je n'ai tenu qu'un quart d'heure alors que le film a l'air prometteur. Mais impossible de s'identifier à des personnages qui s'expriment comme à l'écrit. "Pourquoi souriez-vous" à une jeune fille mineure... : personne ne s'exprime comme ça, ce qui d'une part rend les personnages peu crédibles et d'autre part donne l'impression que le scénario a été écrit dans le cadre d'une rédaction de lycée...