A married small-town judge takes a stray young girl under his wing to deleterious effect in “Sweet Evil.” Part Gallic “Lolita” fantasy, part somewhat pat psychological thriller, this seamless blend of familiar elements by frosh helmer Olivier Coussemacq has a polished surface and nothing much going on beneath it. Though pic is more of a latenight TV item, the recent actress gong at Karlovy Vary for starlet Anais Demoustier might spark scattered fest interest. “Evil” was dead in the water in France, where it opened in May.
Celine (Demoustier, channeling her own work in “Be Good”) is a minor who secretly sleeps in the shed of morally upright judge Van Eyck (Pascal Greggory, haggardly phoning it in) and his antique-doll-repairing spouse, Nathalie (Ludmila Mikael). When discovered, Celine quickly ingratiates herself with the childless couple. Trouble and plot twists lie ahead, with the only real surprises coming from the Nathalie’s behavior; all else is Sexy Thriller 101 (with some moralizing added for good measure). Screenplay has some loose ends, including Celine’s dog-killing b.f. (Sylvain Dieuaide). Execution is particularly smooth. French title is a pun on Baudelaire and childhood corruption.