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Maelstrom (2000)

Maelström (original title)
After plunging her car into a river, a woman encounters a man who helps her come to terms with her life.


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Cast overview, first billed only:
Claire Gunderson
The Fish (voice)
Kliment Denchev ...
Head-Annstein Karlsen (as Klimbo)
John Dunn-Hill ...
Marc Gélinas ...
Stranger in Subway
Bobby Beshro ...
Philippe Champagne
Marie-Jeanne Sirois
Virginie Dubois ...
Daniel Turcot ...
Infernal fishmonger
Fishmonger's employee
Darrell Lloyd Tucler ...
Fishmonger's employee
Léo Arguello ...
Fishmonger's employee
Martin Boucher ...


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 Huggo

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis



Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for sexuality/nudity, language and an abortion scene | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





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Release Date:

15 September 2000 (Canada)  »

Also Known As:

Maelstrom  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$25,250, 15 September 2000

Gross USA:

$33,410, 5 May 2002
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Company Credits

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Technical Specs


| (DVD)

Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?


Director Denis Villeneuve was disappointed with his first two movies, Un 32 août sur terre (1998) and Maelstrom (2000), so he took a nine-year sabbatical as a stay-at-home dad. He vowed to return "when I was ready to make a film I could be proud of", which was Polytechnique (2009). See more »


Les deux guitares
Performed by Charles Aznavour
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User Reviews

A dark fairy tale
19 August 2006 | by See all my reviews

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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