Chaos And Desire (la Turbulence Des Fluides)

on September 07, 2002 by Susan Green
   Humidity drenches "Chaos and Desire (La Turbulence des Fluides)," Manon Briand's torrid tale about how nature intersects with human passion. Like "Body Heat," the steamy 1981 noir, this production suggests the simmering desperation of people motivated by forces beyond their ken. But the director also aims for an ecological mystery: Why have the tides stopped flowing in a small Quebec town on the St. Lawrence River? Tokyo-based epidemiologist Alice (Pascale Bussieres) arrives in the Canadian hamlet, where the dew point is uncharacteristically oppressive, to investigate. At first, she thinks the phenomenon might be the precursor of an impending major earthquake.

   The community of Baie-Comeau is populated by folks experiencing strange behavior worthy of an M. Night Shyamalan movie. A little girl sleepwalks on the street every night at the same time. A woman inexplicably chops down all the trees in her front yard. The microwave oven bizarrely malfunctions in the home of a man who fears he's being contacted by aliens. Alice thinks these odd goings-on have a rational basis, but soon finds a not-so-scientific explanation that involves Marc (Jean-Nicolas Verreault), a handsome pilot whose wife died in a plane crash.

   The schmaltz factor mushrooms when Briand introduces a gaggle of singing nuns who warble "Ave Maria." And Alice determines that love can change the laws of meteorology and astrophysics. Genevieve Bujold's wise, compassionate waitress almost keeps the overwrought film from becoming a cross between "The X-Files" and "Agnes of God." The crafty actress is still as enchanting as she was 36 years ago in "The King of Hearts," a fable with all the mystique lacking in "Chaos and Desire."    Starring Pascale Bussieres, Jean-Nicolas Verreault, Genevieve Bujold, Julie Gayet and Ji-Yan Seguin. Directed and written by Manon Briand. Produced by Roger Frappier, Luc Vandal, Luc Besson and Pierre-Ange Le Pogrom. No distributor yet. Drama. French-language; subtitled. Not yet rated. Running time: 112 min.

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