Happenstance (Le Battement d’ailes du Papillon)
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Is it just a coincidence…or is it fate? If you’ve ever been held up in line at the grocery store, only to run into a long-lost friend in the parking lot, the thought may have crossed your mind. If you hadn’t had to wait in line, you would have never reconnected with your old friend…

This French film, starring one of my favorite actresses, takes a closer look at the tiny, unrelated events that work together to bring about fate.

One morning, on the train to work, Irene (Audrey Tautou) meets a woman who reads Irene her horoscope. On that day, the woman tells her, Irene is going to meet her soul mate. Irene smiles politely, then gets off the train and heads to work at an appliance store. After she’s gone, a young man seated nearby on the train reveals that he has the same birthday as Irene—and thus the same horoscope.

As the day passes, things take place to change the course of events. Characters in the film—the bum, the thief, the cheating husband and his family, even an insect—come into contact momentarily, and somehow, by the end of the day, fate manages to bring Irene and the young man back together. Something as small and seemingly insignificant as a pigeon perched overhead or a hastily snapped picture manage to make major changes in the future of the two central characters.

This mystical film is fascinating to watch. The basis of Le Battement d’ailes du Papillon (or, in English, Happenstance) is similar to the 1999 Tom Cruise movie, Magnolia, but Happenstance is much more carefully put together—not to mention lighter and more enjoyable to watch. Occasionally, it tends to drags on—though that’s understandable, considering the film’s premise. The whole point of the movie is to focus on the minute details—and while that makes it interesting, it also takes away from the action. And though I love Tautou (in case I haven’t mentioned that frequently enough), it’s hard to connect to her character—or to any of them, for that matter—since most of the characters in the film appear only in passing. Even Tautou and the young man appear only occasionally.

That aside, however, Happenstance is an intriguing movie. If nothing more, it will definitely make you pay attention to those little things that change the course of your day.

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