Directed by Claude Chabrol, starring Nathalie Baye, Benoît Magimel, Suzanne Flon, Bernard Le Coq, Mélanie Doutey and Thomas Chabrol.

Briefly, and obviously distastefully, you could think this latest offering from veteran French director Claude Chabrol is concerned with incest. It's not, but there is still some iffy conduct at work here. With as much clarity as a synopsis of this tale allows, here's what we have. Well-to-do Anne Charpin-Vasseur (Baye) is running for mayor. Married second time 'round to lecherous Gerard (Le Coq), Anne's homestead is further complicated by the fact that her daughter Michèle (Doutey) is lover to Gerard's son Francois (Magimel). Complicated? It gets worse, but that'd be telling.

As the slings and arrows of politics rain in on the family, past secrets are slowly unravelled and the skeletons come bursting out of the closet. All the while Chabrol keeps the focus on the daily grind – Anne on the campaign trail, her husband on the female trail, and the young lovers getting re-acquainted after Francois' timeout in the US.

The main problem with 'The Flower of Evil' is that the real intrigue has taken place years before the action of the narrative. It is alluded to throughout the film, but it never manages to grow into anything other than a mild curiosity. This apart, the script throws up few surprises, a huge flaw in what was surely intended to be a cold examination of France's political class.

Cast-wise, the film fares far better. Chabrol's drama mixes youth and experience, and he's well served by stalwarts Baye, Flon and Le Coq, while Magimel has a sinister, brooding presence, and newcomer Doutey is bubbling with sexy charm.

Sporadically engaging then, but for all its Gallic gloss, 'The Flower of Evil' leaves you suspecting that sometimes the sins of the father should be left in their rightful place, the past. Mais c'est la vie...

Tom Grealis