17 May 2009

The Decade List: Maelström (2000)

Maelström - dir. Denis Villeneuve

Denis Villeneuve certainly has a memorable way for opening his sophomore film Maelström. Enter our narrator, a grotesque nightmarish talking fish, with an Alphaville voice, on a Hostel-like operating table. Enter the heroine, Bibi (Marie-Josée Croze), undergoing a fairly graphic abortion. This might lead you to expect a much different type of film than Villeneuve offers his audience, though perhaps not knowing what should logically follow such an opening is the most accurate approach to Maelström. With a dynamite performance from Croze, in her first leading role, Maelström succeeds in being smart and bratty at the same time, all while moving at a pace and direction that seems all its own. Every plot synopsis I've read of the film differs, so there's no point in trying to describe what happens beyond the introduction. The best moment of the entire film occurs near the hour-mark as Bibi runs toward the plane a man she's just met (Jean-Nicolas Verreault) is boarding, reaching her destination out of breath and telling the man, "I forgot to tell you... I want to have sex with you." That really should've be the end-all of last-minute airport parodies (and it works a lot better than me relaying the scene to you).

With: Marie-Josée Croze, Jean-Nicolas Verreault, Stephanie Morgenstern, Pierre Lebeau
Screenplay: Denis Villeneuve
Cinematography: André Turpin
Music: Pierre Desrochers
Country of Origin: Canada
US Distributor: Arrow Features

Premiere: 29 August 2000 (Montréal World Film Festival)
US Premiere: January 2001 (Sundance Film Festival)

Awards: Best Film, Best Director, Best Actress - Marie-Josée Croze, Best Screenplay, Best Cinematography (Genie Awards, Canada); Best Film, Best Director, Best Actress - Marie-Josée Croze, Best Screenplay, Best Cinematography, Best Art Direction, Best Editing, Best Sound (Jutra Awards, Québec Canada); Best Canadian Feature Film - Special Jury Citation (Tornoto International Film Festival); FIPRESCI Prize - Panorama (Berlin International Film Festival); Best Cinematography (Montréal World Film Festival)

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