Five Devils is unfortunately just the name of a sports complex where Adele Exarchopoulos works with her disfigured ex-friend Nadine – the movie isn’t about devils, but a girl with an incredible sense of smell. Her mom Adele tends the pool, and her dad Jimmy’s a fireman, so fire and water. Dad’s sister Julia comes to stay, after spending time in jail for the fire that messed up Nadine, so everyone’s on edge.
The girl Vicky makes jars of special scents, which cause her to black out and visit past events from before she was born – invisible to all except Young Julia, who panics whenever the girl appears. After the fire ruptures the two young couples (Adele and Julia, Jimmy and Nadine), mom and dad end up together, so V wouldn’t have been born if she hadn’t (passively) prompted the fire.
Fun movie to think about, and to watch – despite its three different “Total Eclipse of the Heart” scenes. Nadine also starred in Nimic with Matt Dillon. Hugo Dillon plays a fireman here, apparently no relation.
I kinda loved it, perhaps because I’d given up hope of ever again being caught off guard by what I think of as the “La JetÃ©e”/Twelve Monkeys theory of time travel, in which visiting the past means that you were always present there. Mysius and her co-screenwriter, Paul Guilhaume, deploy their eternalism in a unique fashion (homemade perfume as proxy-Proustian time machine, with a silent, watchful Vicky visible only to her future aunt) and for singularly perverse endsâ€”this is basically a dual tragic love story rooted in kids’ inadvertently destructive power, acknowledging that their mere existence in the world (crucially, Vicky never actually does anything during her visitations) can fuck up adults’ lives, and leaving startlingly open the question of whether or not parents’ deep, abiding love for them is worth it.