Directors’ Showcase / UK premiere

All That She Wants (Elle veut le chaos)

  • Denis Côté /
  • Canada /
  • 2008 /
  • 105 mins

Eve Duranceau, Normand Lévesque, Laurent Lucas, nicolas Canuel, Réjean Lefrançois, Olivier Aubin, Lesya Samar / Fiction / French

Québécois rustic life as a dead end of petty crime, and a hymn to Bela Tarr and Diane Arbus.

Fatigued by the sheer ennui of her rural surroundings, Coralie (Eve Duranceau) whiles away her time by drifting, nimbus-like – when not making anonymous and suggestive phone calls. Her stepfather Jacob also tries to disregard his lack of purpose, through trivial conversations with fugitive ‘Frenchie’ Pierrot, whose distant love of Coralie will be his downfall. In contrast, ageing petty gangster Alain is readying himself for a new venture: the pimping of two Russian émigrés, who idle away the boredom by watching thug Spaz play ping pong. Spaz has his own existential void to deal with, one that involves visiting random violence upon people and cars alike. Welcome to an Arcadian Quebec of purpose-free boredom, a bucolic expanse where the arbitrary whims of masculinity literally demand their pound of flesh… Do not let the fact that Côté’s film takes place in the sunlight and among the scenic fool you – this is deep noir country. While depleting the genre’s reliance on blinds and expressionist angles, the open Canadian expanse proves far more apt an existential landscape than the city ever could. This is darker than any of Daniel Woodrell’s rustic noirs, a petty world where sunlight on trees hides the crepuscular actions of a world of anomie; where the boredom of men inevitably results in the destruction of women, which Coralie inevitably suffers, yet defiantly survives. Through crisp, almost acid-etched black and white cinematography, Côté’s picaresque masterpiece of emptiness superbly captures a milieu stained with the ennui of rustication, a landscape that haunts just beyond the frame of Edward Hopper’s paintings. Matching the crystalline visuals is Eve Duranceau’s bold, internalised yet spirited crafting of Coralie, a performance complemented by a typically nuanced turn by a cropped-haired Laurent Lucas. With their performances anchoring the narrative's accretion of detail, a structure emerges, brave enough to omit the lacunae of cause and effect. In turn, anecdotal layers emerge through almost stolen, non-sequential moments of time, with the strong use of elision perfectly illustrating how the time and consequence of boredom affect those drifting amid rural stasis. And all captured through the most seductive of tracking shots and the most fastidious use of the power of reframing. Welcome to chaos; welcome to the making of Coralie.

2009 Archive

Image from All That She Wants

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