Elle (18)

Elle (18)

Directed by Paul Verhoeven
Picturehouse, Liverpool
From 10th March 2017

Reviewed by Colin Serjent

I have viewed and admired many French films over the years but this movie can be described as an Art House soap opera. It is excruciating to watch.

It has been termed as ‘post-feminist’ – I am perplexed as to what that means. Or what Laurie Anderson might say, “Post-feminist – where did that term come from?”

Critics churn out these terms and are clueless as to what they signify.

Michele (Isabelle Huppert) is a co-owner of a video game company and is raped at home by a masked intruder.

Seeing it once is gruesome viewing but director Paul Verhoeven shows the attack twice more, including from the perspective of Michele’s cat looking on while it takes place. I kid you not.

There are so many holes in Elle – poor plot line and narrative for starters, that it could be called – I know it is a bad pun – The French Sieve.

During the initial assault – Michele later suffers another by the same assailant – she is repeatedly punched in the face while lying on the floor and the back of her head slammed against a concrete wall several times.

As in keeping with the nonsensical nature of the film, she emerges virtually unscathed, except for a small bruise below one eye.

A defender of women’s rights on Radio 4’s Saturday Review was apoplectic about the way rape was represented in Elle and the manner in which the victim was almost indifferent to what had happened to her.

There is the view that because Michele was the daughter of a serial killer who preyed on small children, she did not want the resultant glare of media attention on her if it went to trial.

Huppert has repeatedly said that her character Michele “is not a victim.” In reply, one female magazine columnist wryly remarked “Perhaps I’m just not sufficiently in touch with my ‘post-feminism’ side to fully comprehend this view.”

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