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Review Elle (2016): Surreal, ludicrous and rage inducing tale!

genre: comedy?, drama, thriller






Honestly, I don't know where to start with this one. But if you are under the impression this is a serious film then I have to warn you that it's far from it. Elle is supposedly a black comedy but set in a world so surreal I had trouble accepting any of it. I know Paul Verhoeven wants to confront his audience with certain truths and social themes and most of the time he succeeds to make you think about the subjects he presents to you. In Elle however he and everyone involved makes such a mockery of for example rape that it enraged me. If that was his goal then I fail to see why? But worse of all is how sex and love are featured in this film. It's a very dark and pessimistic look and I for one can't relate to that at all.

And I really fail to see why main character Michèle Leblanc played by Isabelle Huppert is perceived as extraordinary. Am I supposed to be impressed by the fact that she does not act as your typical rape victim? I would have been more so had all the other characters in this world at least acted like real people. Then the contrast would have been huge and actually funny. Now the whole universe is filled with cynical people who never act real. And while this might seem interesting it's not. Everything is so far fetched and unreal that it became tedious and boring. Only here and there there were some nice moments. Like Michelle's son not realizing that the newborn baby is not his. It's astonishing to witness how he has missed the newborn is not his. Vincent and his girlfriend are white and the baby is black. The girlfriend's lover is even present at the birth rooting for them and still it didn't dawn on him that something was off. Everybody there are surprised and yet no one says anything. Super hilarious. But so strange. There is a twist in the film and you will know once you see it that will ask too much of you. It's a moment that never ever will happen or has happened (at least to my knowledge) and puts whatever credibility Huppert or Verhoeven had on the line.

Then there is the fact that a real videogame is featured in the film. Styx. A game that is on my wish list and now even more so since according to the film it is going to contain tentacle sex. If that truly were the case then I surely would have read about it but the blatant misrepresentation of the game is amusing. Not sure if this also was some statement or some injoke. But whatever it means it was lost on me. I think most people won't know what to make of this film. What the hell is Verhoeven trying to tell us? Even if he had a solid point to make I don't want to know about it. I don't think rape is a subject you can joke about too much. It's a horrendous and despicable act and even when Paul Verhoeven shows that he still treats the aftermath like it's trivial. 

Paul Verhoeven always was a director I could count on but now he has let me down big time. Whatever he was going for he failed to grab my attention. He had it but after just twenty minutes I lost interest. It doesn't help that certain subplots are just there as distractions. Nowhere near proper red herrings. Just filler. Trust me I tried to make sense of it after I managed to calm down. Because believe it or not this film will trigger you with disbelief and rage. When I did and finished watching the film I was left with a conclusion that is beyond preposterous. Concerning the role of Isabelle Huppert. I don't really understand why she is nominated for Oscar Best Actress category. Her role didn't differ that much from the other characters in the movie. There is nothing special about the way she has performed. So overall save yourself the anger and skip this one. 



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