A lonely girl has an extraordinary sense of smell and stores scents – including her mother’s – in jars. The arrival of an aunt rejoining the family after years of absence causes strange phenomena during which family secrets are revealed.

In Ava, the first feature film with which she was favorably noticed, Léa Mysius told the story of a teenager who tried to capture as many mental images as possible before going blind. In The Five Devils, she is interested this time in the fate of Vicky (Sally Dramé), a 10-year-old girl with an hypertrophied sense of smell, which causes her to have a very rare kind of compulsions.

Visibly fascinated by somewhat strange atmospheres, the filmmaker flirts this time with the fantastic. The little girl, very much in love with her mother Joanne (Adèle Exarchopoulos, excellent), indeed has a kind of gift that makes more tragic periods of the family past reveal themselves to her. She is particularly troubled by the return of an aunt (Swala Emati), a woman she knows little, because the latter, sister of her father (Moustapha Mbengue), disappeared several years ago.

Camped in a small town located on the side of a mountain, the story is notably set in the sports center – named The five devils – where Joanne, also a gymnast, works. Léa Mysius, who wrote the screenplay for her feature film with Paul Guilhaume (also co-screenwriter of Ava), thus interweaves eras to better echo the anxieties of a child discovering the complicated life of the adults around her.

In this often anxiety-provoking atmosphere, some more dramatic effects turn out to be a little overrated, but it must be recognized that Léa Mysius, also recognized as a screenwriter, offers here a strangely captivating film.

Presented last year at the Quinzaine des cinéastes at the Cannes Film Festival, The Five Devils is currently showing.