Synopsis: A scientist living in Tokyo is sent to a small Canadian town to study the tides in this visually inventive feature from director Manon Briand. Suspecting that the cecassion of the tides may indicate an impending earthquake Seismologist Alice (Pascale Bussieres) arrives in her hometown of Baie-Comeau Quebec to commence her investigation. Soon confronted by numerous figures from her past the unusual weather and inexplicable behavior of the citizens lead Alice to believe that something beyond her comprehension is occurring to her old hometown. With a mysterious waitress (Genevive Bujold) a lusting woman a pack of nuns a sleepwalking child and a widower pilot who grows ever closer to Alice all factoring into the strange goings on it seems as if human emotions may have somehow played an integral part in the sudden climate shift.
‘La turbulence des fluides’ is a charming québécois film about a seismologist (played with her usual flair by Pascale Bussière) who is sent from Japan to her home country to investigate the sudden stillness of the tide. Her bosses think that it may be related to an oncoming earthquake, but she is not entirely convinced – and, truth be told, doesn’t really want to go back home to a place she doesn’t feel she belongs to.
As she arrives in Baie-Comeau, she discovers that the locals have all been affected by the event, and many are behaving in ways that are completely foreign to them. Thus she begins to pick away at all the details and clues that might get her to the centre of the chaos enveloping them – and which might consequently bring resolve to their lives. Meanwhile, she encounters a college ex, a potential new flame and deals with her own inner torments.
Although the film is quirky, but pleasant, the story is secondary and it’s truly only a vehicle for all the character development. In that respect, the film has a lot to offer: due to the environmental anomaly that has suddenly befallen the region, most of the characters are off-beat and/or defy convention. While it makes for an odd bunch of ducks, it doesn’t necessarily make them off-putting; everyone is charming in their own right and their relatively minor idiosyncrasies are strictly tools to explore their hearts and minds.
As a whole, the cast is extremely solid; everyone holds up their end of the piece convincingly. It was especially enjoyable to see Geneviève Bujold on-screen – I hadn’t seen her in years, and she still lights up every scene she’s in with her subtle, affable manner. Even Jean-Nicolas Verreault, whom I abhor, is a little less irritating than usual (still, he is by far the weakest link for me and I think that the film would have surely benefitted from a different casting choice).
The ending was unfortunate, however, as it felt a little too saccharine and “Hollywood” for my taste – sadly enough, it was far less credible than the rest of the film. It’s too bad, too, because ‘La turbulence des fluides’ would have otherwise stood tall as one of the best québécois films of all time – along with ‘Le déclin de l’empire américain’ and ‘Le violon rouge’.