Elle

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While I was sitting through this horrible movie, I didn’t realize who the director was.

Paul Verhoeven has made some big sci-fi pictures that were fun — RoboCop and Total Recall. I only saw half of his Starship Troopers on HBO. That was enough. I saw just over half of this movie, since after an hour and 40 minutes of this crap, I had had enough. Why sit there another 30 minutes? I wasn’t even involved enough to see how it would turn out. The whole thing was just so ridiculously implausible.

So Verhoeven now has an exploitative crappy French film to rival his Showgirls. It’s Elle.

The opening rape scene is powerful. Yet it’s quickly followed by her wiping herself off, cleaning her kitchen, and taking a bath. There was something horrid about seeing her calmly take a bath, after such terror…and to see a small puddle of blood among the white bubbles. She doesn’t call the cops, and it doesn’t seem to affect her emotionally. We’ll find out later that she doesn’t call the police because 40 years earlier her dad went on a killing spree. Many people in the town felt she was involved (which is odd, considering she was a child; also odd that people even recognize her when she’s in a coffee shop minding her own business).

What makes this even more disappointing is that Elle stars Isabelle Huppert as Michele Leblanc. She’s always magnificent. Her acting in this is also solid, yet you despise her character, and you don’t buy anything she does. For example, she’s sleeping with her best friend’s husband. She has a co-worker that rudely comes into her office, pulls down his pants, and…she pulls the waste basket over and takes care of him.

She has a son that’s a loser. He’s about to get married to a snotty girl, and Leblanc has to lend them money for a flat. The girl is having a baby, and it isn’t his. We’re supposed to laugh when she gives birth, and the baby is black. The best friend standing nearby, who is black, smiles with delight. Really? In what world is this happening? Perhaps a bad sitcom from 1975.

Another sitcom moment comes when Michele, getting more and more paranoid about her rapist/stalker, sees a strange vehicle pull onto her street and do a U-turn. It parks across the street from her house. She sneaks out a back door, goes up to the window, smashes it, and maces the guy in the face. Turns out, the guy was her ex-husband, who was just worried and checking up on her.

There’s also that classic sitcom scene of…the ex-wife inviting the much younger, prettier new wife of the ex-husband, to a dinner party. She’s a naive yoga teacher, and…we have to believe she’d accept such an invitation, or that the husband would. It’s all just so ridiculous.

Also along the lines of sitcom hilarity, is the mother — who hires various gigolos. This is now the second foreign film in a month (Aquarius being the other), that uses that unrealistic plot device.

I’m also wondering why, if she wants to get a gun and be prepared for the rapist…and she knows he’s still stalking her (a neighbor almost caught him hiding in the bushes)…why does she constantly leave her security gate unlocked? She comes home each night, opening it without a key or security code. Why?

And one day she sees her home computer is turned on, with the words “Sorry. I couldn’t resist.”

Near the computer on her bed, he left….uh….a bit of a mess.

It was a few minutes after that scene that I had had enough of this misogynist garbage.

I’m also a bit confused as to how (or why) Michelle Leblanc  went from being a successful magazine publisher, to the CEO of a video game company.

This adaptation is from the Philippe Dijian novel, and I’m curious as to if any of the characters were likable in the book. They certainly aren’t here.

Paul Verhoeven might have got people to say his movie Basic Instinct dealt with female empowerment. That word is being bandied about with this picture.

Don’t buy it. It’s all just unrealistic, horrible storytelling.

I’ll give it one star for playing an Iggy Pop tune, and giving a Scrabble game as a gift on Christmas, which lead to some fun Scrabble scenes.

1 star out of 5, and on my list of the worst movies this year.