‘Elle’ (id., Paul Verhoeven, 2016) is the new film of his controversial director after ten years of absence – leaving, of course , aside, this kind of experiment is considered the mediometraje ‘Steekspel’ (2012) -. ‘The black book’ ( ‘Zwartboek’, 2006) was the last test that we had reached the talent of a Dutchman who remains true to its concerns. And it has been in a France mortally wounded where they have left to roam, putting his finger on it.
In a country where long before we inconvenienced directors as Henri-Georges Clouzot, François Truffaut, Claude Chabrol, including Michael Haneke, to give some examples, dissection of the human being by Verhoeven, in this, his latest film, arrives at best -or worse moments. ‘Elle’ is not only uncomfortable, his gaze shocked many, perhaps because it is a merciless portrait of a monster, which all of us. But it is much more. And Michèle adds to the list of fascinating women parading by Verhoeven film.
The beginning of ‘Elle’ is a statement of intent. On black screen we hear gasps. Someone is practicing sex, and it seems, it is hard, the good. But the first image dissipates possible doubt. It is a violation. Verhoeven is smart enough -much more than what is usually his audience as to frame rapist and victim with a door and not with the film plane. This is more than a violation. Something more than a rapist. Something more than a victim.
With a precise rhythm as few, Verhoeven is “opening up” slowly showing what each character hides. All around the central character, Michèle, played by Isabelle Huppert in a true state of grace. With a range of roles behind her, similar in some points to this, the interpretation of the French actress is the perfect translator intentions Verhoeven, who turns his fémina in a continuation of all the fascinating female characters in his work.
If some believed that the Dutch had a very high sexual tone at certain times of films like ‘Flesh and Blood’ ( ‘Flesh + Blood’, 1985), ‘Basic Instinct’ ( ‘Basic Instinct’, 1992) or ‘Showgirls’ (Id., 1995), in ‘Elle’ can stay completely shocked by the proposal Verhoeven, able to establish a dialogue between rapist and victim, going beyond even that, and to portray the woman as someone indisputably superior in a world in which little by little, and fortunately the heteropatriarchy begins to crumble. Or should.
With a clever mix of genres -more appropriate mixture Verhoeven would say that gender makes a flirteen with others ‘Elle’ offers an undisguised ambivalence about the central character and motivations. Is it really a psychopath with terrifying past that he joins his father, or remain so ended because of an image that made the world señalase as a psychopath? The good thing about the film, despite its extreme hardness moral is that judges no one. And it does put in the mouth of Michèle this sentence.
And it will also judge the film. Believe us, like the stupid race that we are in possession of the correct judgment. To do this, Verhoeven not only points out the figure of the assailant, in which the drawing of characters and situations is much more complex than it seems. Also he performed with the figure of the dumb son of Michèle. Everything revolves around his paternity, which makes others look like someone you ridiculous. Verhoeven load inks two sequences deliberately introduced into the real father, thus establishing a confrontation between drama and comedy at a formal level, but hinting that the son of Michèle is happy with the simple fact of being a parent.
In any case, the director does not care ruling that men are at a lower level. Without wishing to establish one of those boring lectures / discussion on feminism and sexism, I think Verhoeven not only indicates that men and women are different, but at least in his account, they are superior. All male characters that Michèle seems finally show kindness-his workers in the video game company, its exmarido- are below it, the controls. When you cannot control, simply it destroys it.
And to finish with certain monsters you have to become one. Michèle not only practiced the typical hypocrisy of high society-French high society in general, also delivered a sexual stimulant, full of violence-and Verhoven game that takes the difficult decision to understand them both, not just because he enjoys it, but because it gives power beyond the game itself. A power which, as in all movies of director ends being used.
As the director said in an interview everything in life it is sex, and sometimes sex and violence. In ‘Elle’ both are shown as a necessity, helping to describe the horrible side we all have. A portrait mercilessly, that serves to differentiate man from beast. The details of the fervently Catholic and aware of everything that happens, wife is another strong hosts of a director aware that in a horrible world survives being more ruthless than the two types of monsters that sometimes inhabit.