Dominatrix duo outdone by gangsters and guns

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Walk All Over Me is a surprisingly tame movie - considering it features a dominatrix, an aspiring dominatrix, and a host of depraved men seeking something just out of reach.

Walk All Over Me is a surprisingly tame movie - considering it features a dominatrix, an aspiring dominatrix, and a host of depraved men seeking something just out of reach. The latest film from Robert Cuffley, whose remarkable debut Turning Paige hit all the right notes in the human scale, Walk All Over Me is geared as a smart noir-styled sex comedy. Small town gal Alberta (Leelee Sobieski) mistakenly misplaces a bundle of cash, forcing her to leave her life in nowheresville and head to big-city Vancouver to hide out with her old friend Celine (Tricia Helfer). The safe house turns out to be a little more dangerous than Alberta planned. Not only is Celine surprised and a little upset to see the naive yokel in her frontyard, shes got her hands full with work - in this case, a man in leather-studded lingerie. Though reluctant, Celine gives Alberta use of the suburban digs under the strict instruction she stay out of the way, and get a job. The well-intentioned Alberta abides the rules, but when she ruins one of Celines best get-ups with a bottle of bleach, shes forced to take desperate measures in order to pay her back. Seeing how much Celine can turn around in one session, Alberta answers the call of a potential client (Jacob Tierney) in the hopes of scoring some quick cash. The meeting goes as awkwardly as one might imagine given the two are complete amateurs, but they hit it off in a way only romantic comedies can muster. Their young love hits a bump when money re-enters the picture in the form of a thug trio looking for cash. Apparently, this new client has made off with a cache of cash, and now the big boss (Lothaire Bluteau) is looking to retrieve his lost goods. Throwing guns, latex and gags together has been done by a host of post-Tarantino wannabes, but to Cuffleys credit, he finds different beats from the usual montage of hot bodies and gangster shootouts cut to throbbing electronica or 70s R&B. Focusing on the smaller, human moments whenever the script gives them the space to develop the relationships, Cuffley and his cast deliver some good scenes that hint at greater things to come. For a second, it appeared as though Cuffley and co-writer Jason Long were going to implode genre convention and let the whole gangster noir device transform into a meaningful story about power, gender, sex and the larger issues surrounding human dynamics. He kind of gets there in the end, but it takes an awfully long time - and an excessive amount of chasing and screaming. Again, to Cuffleys credit, he creates characters who are inherently seductive. Both Alberta and Celine are fascinating studies of femininity and female stereotypes, and both Sobieski and Helfer bring incredible depth to the fore - but we never get enough moments between the two of them to suck on the marrow of the story. The story of Alberta and Celine is far more interesting than a bunch of gangsters and the blossoming romance between a heavy and a novice dominatrix. It feels as though Cuffley surrendered to genre convention and didnt let the characters go on the adventure they were born to live. As a result, the movie feels underdeveloped in an emotional sense - which ultimately interferes with our engagement and investment in the story as a whole, making Walk All Over Me feel a little more like Nudge Me When Youre Done. Rating: Two stars out of five

Geographic location: Alberta, Vancouver

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