Maelström magnificent

A psychic couldn’t predict this story and a psychologist couldn’t understand it. The very definition of confusing, Maelström doesn’t make any sense until you stop thinking so hard. From director Denis Ville-neuve, it is a simple story, brilliantly obscured by odd characters, a rambling plot and an aquatic narrator.

The failed daughter of a business magnate, Bibiane (Marie-Josée Croze) feels her world is falling apart. After a night of heavy drinking Bibiane accidentally runs down a man while driving home. She wakes the next morning overwhelmed with guilt and difficult decisions to make. Should she turn herself in, destroy the evidence or kill herself? Bibiane finds salvation in a man named Evian, whose strange connection to her situation is nothing short of torturous for both. Surrounded by chaos, she spirals into self-made damnation.

Sounds dramatic, eh?

In reality, Maelström isn’t. Sure, it has dramatic moments, but expect more. Expect perverse humour and detailed character studies. Expect severe twists of fate and sharp plot turns. Expect shocking blood-splattered scenes, and bare-all sexual liaisons.

Whereas a less-talented director would focus on the potential for suspense, Villeneuve travels the road less taken. His tale is more about a woman who doesn’t want to make a decision and doesn’t want to deal with the dilemmas she finds herself in. Bibiane’s situation is less one of suspense, and more one of confusion, desperation and human interaction.

Oh yeah, and fish. The story is told from the perspective and voice of an aged and experienced fish, now on the chopping board after carelessly allowing himself to be caught. Before he’s sliced into fillets, he imparts what he’s learned in his long life. His story is, as director Villeneuve says, "a playful call to be responsible and to be careful."

Which is true. Bibiane’s predicaments would not have exploded so harshly if she had acted carefully; Evian would not be so distraught if he thought before trusting and the fish wouldn’t be dinner if he’d been more cautious. But then again, maybe Villeneuve is wrong. If Bibiane hadn’t been so careless, she never would’ve escaped her "mythomanic" lifestyle. Evian would never have fallen in love, and the fish would never have shared his wisdom or divulged the meaning of life.

But don’t think about any of this while watching Maelström. Just sit back and let yourself be captivated.


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