All That She Wants

All That She Wants

****

Reviewed by: Amber Wilkinson

Despite the fact its Anglicised title makes All That She Wants sound like the latest Matthew McConnaughey vehicle, with its long, slow takes, static atmosphere, slight narrative and black and white palette, Denis Côté’s film is a million miles from the multiplex.

Centring on the sort of backwater provincial town usually seen in the American arthouse, this is less the individual story of the trials of its central protagonist Coralie (Eve Duranceau), than a more general examination of isolation, both physical and spiritual.

Copy picture

Coralie is just about as alone as it is possible to be. Her mother has been sent to a mental institute – Coralie is not sure where – and she lives with Jacob (Normand Levesque), who is possibly her father, although nothing here is certain, save for the fact that the pair of them are allowed to scratch by purely on the indulgence of the gangster and his cohorts who live next door. As characters – an ex-con in love with Coralie, a pair of Russian prostitutes – come and go, Côté asks us to examine their futile boredom from which, it seems, at least initially, there is no respite, while at the same time exploring the notion of women in peril.

The black and white film perfectly evokes the sense of a place caught in aspic, while the use of ambient noise, rather than a soundtrack – except for the credits – adds to the air of disconnection with the outside world.

Côté’s framing is exquisite. From doorways right down to the leaves on a corn plant his scene composition is breathtakingly good, and he puts every inch of depth and width of each frame to good use.

Those looking for clear narrative plot points will find themselves frustrated by the shards of story poking up through the hauntingly realised images – this is wilfully arthouse, demanding that the viewer find their own direction with only the vaguest of story maps. But if you’re prepared to go with the vibe of quiet menace mixed with bone dry humour and a sense of melancholy that pervades, you will find as much pleasure in the texture of this film as the overall look.

Reviewed on: 11 Jun 2009
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All That She Wants packshot
A woman dreams of escape from her remote Canadian town.
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Director: Denis Côté

Writer: Denis Côté

Starring: Eve Duranceau, Nicolas Canuel, Laurent Lucas, Rejean Lefrancois, Olivier Aubin

Year: 2008

Runtime: 105 minutes

Country: Canada

Festivals:

EIFF 2009

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