Saturday, October 29, 2016
Yes, we've been treated to the likes of Basic Instinct and Showgirls from Verhoeven (and The Piano Teacher from Huppert), but there's something different about Elle that makes those earlier works pale in comparison. No doubt it has mostly to do with Michèle's (Huppert) general frame of mind but also from what happened in her past. (To say what it was would spoil the twisted nature of it all.)
Much like The Piano Teacher, Elle has Huppert exploring the darker elements within human nature. Often sporting a glare that makes Bette Davis' look flimsy, she won't let society's gender norms control her every movement. And like Michael Haneke's film, the results aren't pretty.
Of course it's what happens in the opening scene of Elle that sets the unhinged precedent of the film. The theme of rape culture comes up every now and again but Verhoeven turns those attitudes on their heads repeatedly. (It may be too much for some but it can be gleefully deranged.)
Elle is so phenomenally screwed up, it has to be seen to be believed. Usually Verhoeven's films that their shock value to the nth degree but this one takes the cake. (Honestly, how is he going to top this?)
My Rating: *****