Elle is a film that definitely wants to make the audience uncomfortable. Director Paul Verhoeven and writer David Birke’s adaptation of Philippe Djan’s novel opens with a cat. However, it’s the rape that the cat is witnesses that will be the driving force of the story. A film listed as a comedy, drama thriller on IMDb sure makes it a challenge on it’s cast and director. However, Isabelle Huppert is up for the task.
Elle is a dark narrative that keeps the audience bewildered
Michèle Leblanc (Huppert) is a assaulted by a masked man at the beginning of the film, but she doesn’t report it. Initially, one would likely assume that she is ashamed and that this will be a story of a victim learning to deal with this horrible incident. However, it’s soon clear that she has an issue with the police and that is the motivation for not calling. The story is really about Michèle and who she is versus where she has come from.
Michèle has a strained relationship with her son,Vincent (Jonas Bloquet) from her ex-husband Richard (Charles Berling). They seem to have some kind of relationship despite having a lover named Robert (Christian Berkel) who is her best friend’s, Anna (Anne Consigny), husband. Michèle’s relationship with her mother (Judith Magre) is also an odd one and there is early indication that her father is a monster. This is her world and the way she deals with it is bothersome, but an amazing performance by Huppert.
Michèle’s rape isn’t isolated as her assailant continues to message her and torment her. She believes it may be one of the game designers at her work, but she is also hated because of her connection to her father. The tension that is built in the moments when she is alone is intense. Yet, moments later you’ll wonder why you care as she does some despicable thing. The way the narrative unfolds is extremely compelling, but where it goes is not something that one could say is enjoyable.
Elle isn’t a film that is likely to warrant a re-watch as it’s a dark look at humanity isn’t a fun time. However, it’s a film that features an amazing performance by its lead actress and one crazy narrative. It’s hard to assign a rating that makes one feel so conflicted internally, but there is no denying that what it is trying to do is executed very well. Thus, Elle earns the Not Quite Golden, Ponyboy rating.