an ELLE musing

This movie is not for everyone. Starting from the opening frame of a cat blankly watching what’s revealed to be a rape of her owner by a masked assailant, the audience is taken on a sometimes hard to watch, darkly humorous and intense ride for the rest of the duration. But those that stick with this French film and live through the experiences of the woman, Michelle, played incredibly by Golden Globe-winning Isabelle Huppert, are (I guess you can call it) rewarded with a rich, twisted story of a complicated, strong woman.

The main drive of the story is the question: “Who was that mysterious man in the beginning?” But we see the relationships of all the people around Michelle, and those scenes really let the ensemble shine. This isn’t one of those movies that has a stunning revelation that was built up throughout the whole movie, but a more real and empowering examination of the unique way how Michelle deals with her rape and how it affects her friends and family. Exposition is dealt with satisfactorily and naturally, and that just added to the realism, too. Isabelle Huppert expertly takes us through Michelle’s journey, and we still empathize we her even though we learn how crazy she can be. In the hands of another actress, this could have fallen apart and Michelle could’ve come off extremely bitchy and unsympathetic, but it’s in the eyes and slight facial expressions that I found unique to Huppert’s performance, and I think she deserves that Golden Globe. (Not sure if she’ll get an Oscar, but I wouldn’t complain if she did.)

It’s helpful that there was much realistic dark humor that lightened the unpleasantness of some of the plot points. ELLE is so great at balancing the two, but I can only recommend this movie to people who would enjoy a morally twisted, morbid but fulfilling journey of a film.


(refer to my rating system here)