In a little village in rural Quebec, Coralie lives alone with her father, following the sudden disappearance of her psychologically unstable mother. Tormented, vulnerable, fragile, solemn, the young woman wanders through the countryside where time seems to have stood still. She seeks isolation in order to think, and so rarely speaks. Her father, likewise haunted by his wife’s absence, cannot help her. Unable to provide for his family, he unwittingly pushes her into prostitution. Going about her daily routine – which is no more than a long series of dreams – Coralie meets up with a bunch of armed hoodlums, two Russian prostitutes, as well as Pierrot, an ex-convict, secretly in love with her, who lives at her home. All of them are eaten away by a sense of unease and have problems getting along in this anonymous land. Poverty, the violence of a world run by men and the absence of a maternal figure, make life unbearably painful for young Coralie, who is always looking for solutions and a new start.
Filmed in black and white, Elle veut le chaos forefronts its cinematography. Meticulously framed compositions, slow panning shots, contrasts in light, the use of monochrome, all highlight the villagers as much as nature itself. The latter is used not so much decoratively but as a central protagonist, revealing the solitude of these introverted characters, whose language, a rural Quebecois, seems to isolate them even more from the rest of the world. This oppressive atmosphere, somewhere between violence and vulnerability, created by the highly-strung characters, becomes a leitmotif in Denis Cote’s latest film.