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On the surface, twenty-five year old Bibiane Champagne has the perfect life. She is the daughter of the famed Flo Fabert. She co-owns a chain of boutiques in Quebec with her brother, Philippe. But Bibi's life is in shambles. She has just had an abortion. And the boutiques are failing because of her incompetence, which is the result of or has led to her substance abuse. It is also the result of the high expectations on her. Bibi's story is told by a fish awaiting decapitation on a butcher's block, the fish as narrator largely because of the singular and accidental encounter she has with fifty-three year old Norwegian fishmonger, Annstein Karlsen. That encounter leads to a further failed decision by Bibi and a meeting with Annstein's son, Evian Karlsen, who does not know the full extent of Bibi and his father's relationship. Bibi's time with Evian may provide some salvation to her crumbling life. Written by
Maelstrom is a unique blend of happenstance, a touch of magical realism and a cautionary tale wrapped in the stunning cinematography Andre Turpin. Unfortunately when one reads a synopsis of the film the reviewers focus on a brief yet impactive scene that happens at the beginning of the film. The irony is this scene is handled deftly and tastefully by Director Denis Villeneuve. But due to the skewed American sensibilities surrounding sex and violence, a masterful portrayal of daily reality is maligned as shocking and graphic. Frankly I'm more disturbed by images I see on the nightly news and on reality TV. So if you can ignore the synopsis a brilliantly poetic piece of cinema awaits you. This is a well crafted film whose visual elements carry the tale, (a lesson M. Night Shamalyan could have used before engulfing his audience in the endless exposition of Lady In the Water) that is ultimately uplifting.
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