This is a movie based on "Eugenie de Franval," by the Marquis de Sade, but updated to a modern setting. It tells the story of a very twisted but quite brilliant writer named Radek (played by Paul Muller) and his step-daughter Eugenie, whom he has raised from birth.… More This is a movie based on "Eugenie de Franval," by the Marquis de Sade, but updated to a modern setting. It tells the story of a very twisted but quite brilliant writer named Radek (played by Paul Muller) and his step-daughter Eugenie, whom he has raised from birth. Radek's wife had already been pregnant when he married her, she'd died not long after giving birth, and he'd raised Eugenie himself, but not necessarily out of fatherly affection. He had a much darker agenda, as we soon learn. He has, in fact, raised her to be his perfect companion, a lover and a collaborator in his various and sundry crimes. Radek is a Sade character, recall. He kills people just because he likes to do it, and, more importantly, because he likes to prove to himself that he can get away with it. Eugenie is sucked into his madness, and the movie records it all.
Eugenie is played by the ravishing Soledad Miranda, then one of Franco's regular stable of performers, and she has never looked better than in this film. Only in her mid-20s at the time, she pulls off a balancing act, in her performance, that would have been impressive for an actress of twice her years. Eugenie willingly participates in all of her step-fathers' horrors, yet still retains an air of innocence--she is a victim as well as a perpetrator. One online review of the film said Paul Muller is totally miscast as her stepfather, and I couldn't disagree more strongly. His intensity is piercing, and he nails every note of his performance like a virtuoso. It is, in fact, difficult to imagine anyone else in the part. Originally, Franco was going to make him Eugenie's real father, as in the book, but he changed this out of censorship concerns. Still, the incest theme is quite icky, and Muller is extraordinarily creepy.
Kudos, also, are due to the films' fantastic score, another shot out of the park by the most excellent Bruno Nicolai--a perfect marriage of image and sound. Like Eugenie herself, it suggests both innocence and corruption, and makes no judgments on the proceedings.
The atmosphere in this one is stifling, at times, and I imagine some would feel the need for a shower after watching it. One shouldn't feel too dirty, though; this is great movie-making.