Chaos Theory

The hypnotic Maelström is full of good-natured twists

As astute an appraisal of post-modern feminine confusion as today's cinema has to offer, this freakish fish story from French-Canadian writer-director Denis Villeneuve (August 32nd on Earth) offers the flash of rock videos fused with solid performances and eerie atmosphere. Imagine an 83-minute Tom Waits video with good-natured twists. Bibiane (Marie-Josée Croze) is a young, disturbed woman of privilege in Montreal who is advised by friends (Stephanie Morgenstern) and strangers (Marc Gélinas) on topics ranging from her abortion to dullard bad boys (Clermont Jolicoeur) to the fishmonger (Klimbo) she accidentally destroys. Villeneuve's approach is sort of chaos-theory-lite, but narrated by a doomed yet rejuvenating fish (Pierre Lebeau) and attended by the fishmonger's hapless son (Jean-Nicolas Verreault), the story sustains a strong, hypnotic appeal well deserving of its many awards. Avoid the trailer at all costs, as it reveals every hot moment in the movie--what fiend is behind this stupid practice?--but go to wonder, as one character puts it, whether "guilt is useless."

 
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