Elle is, I would say, a psychological drama / thriller, but you can hardly clearly classify it, because during its duration it delves into various genres, mixing them extremely skillfully in order to tell its unusual story. Yes, unusual, because the film itself is such, unusual, special or even better, as its name suggests, hers (She). That name is exactly the core of the film, because we were introduced to its unusual world, in the context of watching an unusual film story, unusually worth your time.
The film begins strangely, with a rape scene in which the film’s protagonist, Michelle Huppert, is raped in her apartment by a masked assailant. After that attack, we watch Michelle do everything except what you would expect in that situation. He cleans the house, takes a shower, and goes to work normally in the morning as if nothing had happened. She does not report the case to the police, she calmly changes the locks on the house, does medical examinations in the hospital, and then at dinner with her ex-husband and her partner and her husband, she tells them what happened.
However, again, everything is going in a direction we do not expect, ie. she quickly interrupts the shock of her interlocutors and they continue with dinner as if nothing had happened. Even then, at the beginning of the film, we are wondering why all this is so and what are we watching? As the film progresses, the answers come, and they can be rounded off with the name of the film, it is clear to us why all this is so and we look at its world.
As a prima ballerina, Paul Verhoeven gave Michelle all the space, surrounded her with everything she needed to fully convey her story, her world. It is the center of that world as a strong, constant anchor that holds that world firmly in calm, safe waters and, more importantly, by its rules. With her strength, she attracted other people to her world who make up her life, and who, with her uniqueness, keeps it exactly where she wants. He controls them so that they are unaware of the controls, using them to fulfill all his physical, but trying to be spiritual as well, mental. I am trying to say, because under so much strength, power, attraction, lies the emotional emptiness and the inability to emotionally connect with another human being.
Michelle walks through her world the way she only knows and wants, regardless of others and their needs, their love, hatred or anger, regardless of whether her actions offend them or not. Still, like it or not, everyone is attracted because it is an invincible fortress, but, contrary to the opinions of others, not because it wants to, but because something it does not feel cannot be conquered, touched or triggered by other people’s feelings and actions. .
This unusual, special character is perfectly brought to us by Isabella Yper, a fantastic French actress who simply excels here. With every movement, gesture, expression, very appearance, he tells an unusual story and brings us Michelle’s world full of strangeness, even controversy. A world that shocks and strikes where many do not want to, and that is the world of forbidden imagination, a world in which people keep those dark secrets that shone through their lives somewhere and that they hid faster than everyone.
Paul Verhoeven made excellent use of the literary template Oh… written by Filip Jian. Then he mixed the story in terms of genre, used the benefits of the same, as well as the fantastic performance of the main actress, but also the excellent performance of the entire team, which is completely convincing. He used all that masterfully and presented us, I can freely say, the most unusual film this year. However, what Paul did excellently was that through the controversy and uniqueness of one character, he actually showed us human nature, and that part of it that everyone skillfully hides. A part that we can rarely see, a part that comes to the surface on exceptional occasions, which requires something special to strip and show off.
Here it is especially Michelle and she reveals to us various human hidden instincts and needs. It reveals to us human nature and the need to represent the environment and society, where we present ourselves as we want others to see us, while often hiding what we really are – all those hidden needs and instincts that others would not understand.
To say anything further about the plot can only spoil this truly special film experience. It is not easy to digest, everyday, it will be difficult for many to follow and endure to the end, but it certainly brings something special, different, superbly made. It brings us an extremely strong role of Isabel Yper and the great direction and magic of Paul Verhoeven, which we haven’t seen for a long time.