manon briand's film has played in Quebec for over four months and is on screens in Paris right now. Luc Besson is one of its producers. As La Turbulence Des Fluides, it has a poetic reach that begins with its title. In English it's called Chaos And Desire, which sounds like a graduate thesis from the 80s.
Briand echoes details of action, dialogue, image and sound off each other, working up a complex symbolic system to deepen the film's mystery plot. Sounds complicated, but Briand (2 Seconds) says it all began from a flash of an idea. "What would happen if the tides stopped?"
Pascale Bussières is a seismologist sent home to Baie Comeau, Quebec, to investigate.
"I'm from Baie Comeau," Briand says. "I hate the place, but I go back a couple of times a year to see my parents. That location, the sand dune that the tide reveals, it's the place I go to be alone. I've wanted to shoot something there, just to show it."
In fact, as strong as Bussières's performance is, she takes second billing to the sand dune.
"All the choices I've made," Briand admits, "-- choosing film stock, the colour effects -- were all for one thing. I needed that very specific skin colour that was exactly like the sand. It had to be very warm."
Warm and yet impassive. Likewise, Bussières, who reads like Isabelle Huppert mixed with a bit of Nathalie Baye, is an actor who holds back as much as she gives.
"I think she does that for her own safety," suggests Briand, "because when she's not filming, Pascale is a totally different person. She's open, friendly. She's, like, the easiest person to work with or to be friends with. But when you put the camera on her, she holds it in, and she becomes that image. I think it's a matter of protection.
"It worked perfectly for me, because this kind of iron woman was the idea -- the image of a woman wearing an iron crust that will melt little by little, as the heat increases. She melts, so that her own emotion can emerge as the skin is being revealed. Like the sand is revealed by the water that's gone. That was the idea, that she becomes more and more human, more soft and full of emotion."
Chaos And Desire is a film in which everything means something. Every detail, from the flutter of a blouse to a flat-out earthquake, resonates on metaphorical as well as dramatic levels.
"I know!" Briand complains. "It's a very maniac way of working.
"When I write the script," she continues, "I really take great satisfaction in the second and third levels of the film. This is where I really have fun. My producer just wants to know about the first level, about what's happening. He doesn't even care at first about why this is blue or why she says that."
But if viewers like the plot and never go deeper, "I'm really happy with that," Briand says. "It means that I've worked for something. Really, it's easier for me to work on the third level than on the first one. That happens last -- finding the fucking story that will link all my ideas and theories together.
"It's where I have to work a lot, to be entertaining. It would be easier for me to make an auteur film, where nobody understands what it means but it's really poetic!"
She laughs like hell at this.
"But really, when people can grasp all the aspects, then I'm happy. Then I feel like I've connected." firstname.lastname@example.org
CHAOS AND DESIRE written and directed by Manon Briand, with Pascale Bussières, Julie Gayet and Jean-Nicolas Verreault, produced by Roger Frappier, Luc Besson, Pierre-Ange Le Pogam and Luc Vandal. 112 minutes. Opens Friday (January 24). For venues and times, see First-Run Movies, page 71. Rating: NNNN