‘’Kaos,’’ the Greek word for ‘’Chaos,’’ is a curious title for the new film by Paolo and Vittorio Taviani, a film with a profound and stirring sense of natural order. Adapted loosely from stories by Luigi Pirandello (the title in fact comes from a Pirandello quotation about the derivation of ‘’Cavusu,’’ the name of a forest near his native village), Chaos tells four separate tales of Sicilian life. These fables, plus an epilogue about the author himself, are united by their shared imagery, their strong sense of community, their final ironies and the clear, graceful way in which they are told.

Chaos unfolds with the rapturous simplicity that was most apparent in Padre, Padrone the first of the Taviani brothers’ films to be released here but it’s even more mesmerizing this time. Yet Chaos also has an edge. The Pirandello influence makes itself felt in the twists of fate that turn each tale’s principals against prevailing values and in the bittersweet note on which the stories conclude; as for the Tavianis, their contribution is an earthy, knowing storytelling style that finds a folk wisdom in the characters’ humanity. In any case, the task of adapting Pirandello proves particularly felicitous for these screenwriter-directors. Rigorous and eloquent, effortlessly poetic, Chaos is the Tavianis at their best.

Janet Maslin,
New York Times

Presented in cooperation with the Italian Cultural Institute