‘Elle’ (2016)

Having seen 2,117 movies in my lifetime, I am not easily shocked by a movie. However the new film ‘Elle’ with the fearless Isabelle Huppert shocked me.

A story that was so difficult to film the director spent years trying to convince an American actress to play the lead role and not one would touch it fearing the character could do irreparable harm to how they would be seen by their audiences. Having seen the film I can say that those American actresses were right in their fear, and because they were right I think Isabelle Huppert deserves an Oscar nomination for her unbelievable performance.

‘Elle’ is a character study first and foremost, the shocking things that happen to her, are in a sense, less interesting than the character herself. And what a character. She and the film itself are ruthlessly, relentlessly unsentimental in the face of some horrific events. She is a cruel, unemotional, awful person verging on being a sociopath and yet you cannot help admiring the same qualities that make you terrified of her. Sadism, violence, cruelty, sexual rapaciousness, fear mix with a comedy of bouegious manners and French culture. Although the film superficially depicts an increasingly dangerous game of home invasion and rape as a whodunnit, the film is most fascinating in exploring ‘Elle’s uniquely dark and impressive worldview. This film is perhaps what ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ was scratching the surface of, albeit in an American sanitised way, whereas Elle goes for the jugular and leaves little to the imagination. Not for the faint hearted or a half hearted viewing event. Should you choose to watch this film strap yourself in for a dive in a riveting drama that will frighten, shock, challenge, but never bore you. And to you Ms Huppert, my hat is off, your performance is groundbreaking.

9/10  ***1/2

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