The Five Devils (Les Cinq Diables)
From the very first frame, director Léa Mysius marks The Five Devils (her second feature) as a wicked force of visual creativity and style. Helmed by a strong cast of key players, the film revolves around youngster Vicky (Sally Dramé). She lives at home with her swimming coach mother, Joanne (Adèle Exarchopoulos), and firefighter father (Moustapha Mbengue), who are suspended in a loveless marriage. However, Vicky is no ordinary child. She has an almost supernatural sense of smell that allows her to detect the location of seemingly anything. Her sensory powers are so sharp, in fact, that she’s able to craft concoctions specific to a person that allow her to relive their memories.
When Vicky’s estranged aunt Julia (Swala Emati) arrives out of the blue, the young girl’s powers lead her to discover the truth behind Julia and Joanne’s past. In this genre-bending coming-of-age affair, Mysius has created an enjoyably vibrant and quirky – if muddled – love story through time.
One of the first things viewers will notice about The Five Devils is how wonderfully it’s shot: each frame pops with colour and bursts with energy. Similarly, a playfully witchy soundtrack casts an infectious spell, instantly ensnaring audiences with its charming delight. Moreover, praise for this film doesn’t just go to its sleek style. Underneath the surface lies a genuinely moving love story made all the more exceptional by the captivating portrayals by Exarchopoulos and Emati. It only takes one drunken karaoke performance of Bonnie Tyler’s Total Eclipse of the Heart to see how enamoured with one another the pair are, after all these years. Likewise, Vicky’s mature insight into these discoveries lends the script an extra layer of humanity.
However, as intriguing as this premise is, it’s also flawed. There is a large plot hole in why Julia is unable to recognise Vicky in the present day, despite being able to see her in the past – especially when these sightings were a large part of the reason she became estranged from the family in the first place. This elephant in the room is never addressed, and only serves to raise more questions. Similarly, the romantic subplot involving her father’s past is all but neglected and consequently doesn’t get the same pay off as the filmmaker was hoping for.
Though imperfect, The Five Devils is nevertheless a fun and unique coming-of-age tale from Mysius.
The Five Devils (Les Cinq Diables) does not have a UK release date yet.
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Watch a clip from The Five Devils (Les Cinq Diables) here: