Elle ★★★★

I bet some folks will see the poster with Isabelle Huppert holding a cute cat and go ”Ah, this looks like a nice film for a soft Sunday!”. They’re in for quite a surprise. ”Elle” is provocative, disturbing and unpredictable, and I just love it when you have no idea what’s coming next.

Isabelle Huppert (brilliant as always!) stars as Michèle Leblanc, a strong businesswoman with relationship problems – to put it mildly. She clashes with her mother, father, son, daughter in law, ex-husband, and the colleagues at work, and on top of that she’s continuously raped and terrorized by a stalker. Yet she seems pretty calm about it all, and it takes a while to understand her ice cold behaviour. She has a history of violence, stemming from a childhood trauma some 40 years ago which still haunts her (or does it?) and the city she lives in, resulting in people throwing garbage at her and hating on her family. Considering her emotional numbness and what happened when she was ten years old, one question must be raised: Is she hiding something? Her complex life isn’t easy to follow.

Despite the darkness, this is also a satire, a twisted, tragic comedy which makes me laugh because it’s almost surreal in its strangeness. The feeling of something absurd runs throughout the entire movie, as does the psychosexual tension. You’re constantly on your seat, awaiting the next subplot to unmask itself. Very confusing, very odd and very good.

And yes, this is a film by Paul Verhoeven, the guy who gave us ”RoboCop”, ”Total Recall”, ”Basic Instinct” and ”Starship Troopers”.

”Elle”, however, is something completely different. It’s about power, relationships and revenge, but not as we’re used to. It will take you to your discomfort zone.