With its black-and-white lensing and deliberately opaque plot, "All That She Wants" screams "arthouse!" but little else.

With its black-and-white lensing and deliberately opaque plot, “All That She Wants” screams “arthouse!” but little else. Denis Cote’s latest experiment has something to do with feuding families in rural Quebec, but it’s best to focus on the cerebral cinematography rather than to try piecing together relationships or motivations made perversely incomprehensible. A darling of Locarno since his debut, “Drifting States,” Cote picked up the best director prize for this film, which won’t get further than fest circuit margins.

After her mother is institutionalized, Coralie (Eve Duranceau) feels even more isolated, notwithstanding the presence of her (possible) father Jacob (Normand Levesque) and kindly ex-con Pierrot (Laurent Lucas), with his unexplained duffel bag of weapons. Coralie’s family is under a sort of blockade enforced by sadistic thug Spazz (Nicolas Canuel), who’s imported a couple of Russian whores — why are there always Russian whores? — to liven things up. Even the subtitles, necessary even for French speakers owing to the impenetrable Quebecois dialect, seem confused. Cote is fond of shooting the same character from two angles (front and side, for example) but the screenplay doesn’t give anything nearly so multidimensional.

All That She Wants

Canada

Production

An Atopia release of a Nihilproductions production. (International sales: Funfilm Distribution, Montreal.) Produced by Denis Cote, Stephanie Morissette. Directed, written by Denis Cote.

Crew

Camera (B&W), Josee Deshaies; editor, Sophie Leblond; production designer, Alexandre Juneau; costume designer, Julia Patkos. Reviewed at Locarno Film Festival (International Competition), Aug. 11, 2008. Original title: Elle veut le chaos. French, English, Russian dialogue. Running time: 106 MIN.

With

Eve Duranceau, Normand Levesque, Laurent Lucas, Nicolas Canuel, Rejean Lefrancois, Olivier Aubin, Lesya Samar, Catherine Erofeeva, Marc Paquet, Marie-Claude Langlois, Catherine Begin.

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