18 September 2017

ELLE. (2016) A SEXY FRENCH THRILLER REVIEWED BY SANDRA HARRIS.




ELLE. (2016) DIRECTED BY PAUL VERHOEVEN. STARRING ISABELLE HUPPERT AND LAURENCE LAFITTE. REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

This film begins with a rape. No, that's not a nice subject, but used as the opener to a movie it certainly grabs your attention by the throat and holds it there. It's not 'a rather colourless affair,' either, to quote the High Court Judge who several years ago described a rape as such in his courtroom and deservedly earned the wrath of the feminists forever after. No, it's not 'colourless,' but actually quite colourful, if you can describe this heinous act of appalling violence in such an understated way.

Michele is an attractive, well-preserved and successful business-woman in this sexy-as-hell French thriller from the guy who brought us BASIC INSTINCT, the legendary furry, moist and wide-open movie featuring blonde sex-bomb Sharon Stone.

Incidentally, can you just imagine how many times the guys renting BASIC INSTINCT from the video-store in the old days would have rewound and replayed that one scene? The poor tapes must have been scratched to buggery...!

Anyway, one day Michele opens the French doors (although I suppose that in France they just call 'em doors) in her gorgeous house to be knocked down, severely battered and viciously raped by a dark-clothed, well-built man wearing a black ski-mask over his face.

It's an ordeal that no woman would want to face, but Michele is a strange and unique woman with a strange and unique past. When the rapist is gone, Michele gets up, dusts herself down and carries on with her life exactly as before. Curious, isn't it?

Maybe it's not as curious as it seems. An horrific incident in her past has left Michele with a lifelong distrust of the police. For this reason, she chooses not to inform them about the rape. Instead, she carries on with her everyday activities.

She has a lot going on in her busy, cluttered life and the rapist could literally be any one of the many men she sees every day. Because we, the viewers, know about the rape, we're going to be scrutinising all of them carefully to see if the ski-mask fits...

Michele and her best female friend successfully co-own a video-gaming company. There's a guy who works for them, though, who seems to dislike Michele intensely and resent her authority as head of the company.

There's also a male employee who likes Michele maybe a little bit too much. Each of these guys will come under suspicion when sexually aggressive emails are circulated around the office that drag Michele's name in the mud.

Michele's grown-up son Vincent is a bit of a train-wreck. He's unemployed and engaged to a woman whom Michele believes to be a money-grubbing bitch. She might just be right. Vincent's girlfriend is pregnant, supposedly with Vincent's child, but when the baby comes out, he's a completely different colour to Vincent. When Michele points this out to her highly-strung son, he calls her all the names under the sun. Some people don't take criticism well...

Michele's mother is well into her 'seventies and is still behaving disgracefully with a toyboy. Michele's ex-husband, who's been violent towards her in the past, has hooked up with a much younger woman and Michele just can't seem to keep her nose out of their relationship.

Michele's utter sleaze-bag of a lover, who also happens to be her best friend's hubby, is refusing to allow Michele to end their relationship. The good-looking married guy from across the street, the tall dark Adonis with a religious nut for a wife, is giving Michele the eye and Michele does nothing at all to discourage him.

See what I mean when I say that Michele has a lot going on in her life? Her life, in fact, is extremely complicated and Michele does nothing to simplify it. Au contraire, mes amis, she
seems to deliberately enjoy making it needlessly ever more complicated. 

She also seems like her own worst enemy at times. Why would she go out of her way to meet her ex-husband's younger lover when the very notion of him dating seems to cut her to the quick? She definitely has a masochistic streak a mile wide running through her insides.

There's a past history there too that must be taken into account if we're to interpret Michele's actions with any degree of accuracy. Even though Michele's dotty mum is fully aware of and even shares this past history, she keeps pushing and nagging Michele to dig it all back up and poke around in it, like opening up a healed-over scab and making it bleed anew. 

Michele doesn't want to dig it up at all or even go near it, but it's clear that there are things, horrible, awful things, that Michele must face up to if she's ever to get any closure in her life. If she's ever to be free of the ghastly shadow that her past history casts over her chaotic, dangerous life.

To cap it all, and this is the big one, the really, really big one, the man in the black ski-mask has come back for another spot of breaking and entering, if you catch my drift. And the question we're left asking ourselves is this.

Does Michele actually enjoy being slapped around and viciously raped by the masked intruder? Some women do fantasise about it, after all. To be roughed up and sexually assaulted by a 'stranger,' even if it's just your husband in a makeshift balaclava putting on a gruff accent, is high up on most womens' sexual wish-list, if we're to believe what we're told.

But is it top of Michele's wish-list? Is that why she does nothing to see that the rapist is apprehended? Is that why she seems to even encourage his sick and twisted perversions? Is that why she repeatedly puts herself in situations where she's at risk?

Someone as emotionally damaged as Michele could easily exhibit anti-social behaviours that the rest of us would be ashamed of our lives to ever be associated with. Someone as emotionally damaged as Michele could have all kinds of kinky sexual predilections that the rest of us might even be largely unaware of.

When she eventually unmasks her criminal, things get even stranger and more f***ed-up. Michele's behaviour becomes even more unpredictable. That basement scene is bloody unbelievable, but it's also all too believable, if you get me. This is more than someone enjoying a little light spanking or a tiny bit of bondage with silk scarves. This is hardcore, man, seriously f***ing hardcore sadomasochism.

Prepare for some shocks if you watch this dark, dark film. And you'd better have a strong stomach too. Do not say that I didn't warn you...

PS, I've just read online that his film has been described by one source as a 'light-hearted rape-revenge movie.' That person is seriously misinformed. This film is no comedy. Someone else has called ELLE 'the most empowering rape movie I've ever seen.' This person must have been watching a different film. Isabelle Huppert's performance here is staggeringly good but Michele LeBlanc is no feminist heroine and neither are her actions 'empowering.' She's a messed-up woman irreparably damaged by her childhood and if these critics can't see that, then they must need glasses, seriously! And they can quote me on that, if they like.

TRAFALGAR RELEASING and LIONSGATE HOME ENTERTAINMENT, in conjunction with PREMIERE ENTERTAINMENT, ARTS AND CULTURE, present ELLE:

now available on Digital Download, Blu-Ray and DVD.

AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.

Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based novelist, film blogger and movie reviewer. She has studied Creative Writing and Film-Making. She has published a number of e-books on the following topics: horror film reviews, multi-genre film reviews, womens' fiction, erotic fiction, erotic horror fiction and erotic poetry. Several new books are currently in the pipeline. You can browse or buy any of Sandra's books by following the link below straight to her Amazon Author Page:

http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B015GDE5RO

You can contact Sandra at:


http://sandrafirstruleoffilmclubharris.wordpress.com







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