Movie Magazine International

Genealogies of A Crime (original title: Genealogies D'un Crime)

France - 1996

Movie Review By Blue Velvet

The French film "Genealogies of A Crime" plays out a maddening drama with such satire and black humor that you never know whether to recoil in horror or to laugh. Director Raul Ruiz along with his co-writer Pascal Bonitzer center the film on actual events of a Viennese child psychologist who said that our personalities were developed by the time we turned five. She also predicted that her toddler nephew would become a murderer and indeed he did kill her later in his life.

Several times throughout the film, a poem is read aloud about how a man fell in love with the ghost of a woman he killed and later the ghost killed him.This sets the film's circular kharmic direction. Catherine Deneuve plays Solange, a lawyer who takes on a case right after the death of her young son. The case consists of a young man named Rene who killed his famous psychologist aunt named Jeanne Higgins. While investigating the murder, Solange stumbles on Jeanne's journal of Rene's sordid life and soon Solange loses herself in Jeanne's persona. Later a supposed eye-witness played by Michel Piccoli attests that he can absolve Rene from the crime. Solange's life takes a bizarre destructive turn from her associations with the eye-witness and the manipulative Rene.

Audiences hoping for a thick plot and a rich story may be disappointed because Director Ruiz keeps the film light by fragmenting the story and downplaying the mystery. Like a precocious kid obsessed with games, Director Raul Ruiz circles so quickly and so deftly around his characters that audiences must give their utmost attention to appreciate the crazy repercussions of each fleeting scene. The film is perfect for Catherine Deneuve fans who loved her in Roman Polanski's "Repulsion" and Luis Brunuel's "Tristana." Like the Addams Family meets Lars Von Trier's "The Kingdom," "Genealogies of a Crime" is a hilarious yet disturbing comedy with a gothic tone.

© 1998 - Blue Velvet - Air Date: 09/02/98

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