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Filmspotting Message Boards => Movie Talk (Spoiler Edition) => Topic started by: slowpogo on December 08, 2016, 10:23:10 AM

Title: Elle
Post by: slowpogo on December 08, 2016, 10:23:10 AM
Couldn't find much at all about Paul Verhoeven's Elle, which I recently saw and liked quite a bit. The Next Picture Show crowd said a few words about it on a recent episode, and they were generally very favorable. Tasha Robinson liked it but worried that "no human would react" the way characters sometimes do in Elle. Well, I love Tasha but I think she missed the boat with that remark (it sounded like one of her co-hosts thought so as well, but they didn't have time to debate). I think it's a film that reserves judgment of its characters' actions and tries to show that there's no such thing as an "inhuman" behavior. Unraveling the main character's initial reaction to an assault is the true mystery of the film.

Anyway, I wrote about it for my blog. Who's seen Elle? What do you think?

http://www.madeupwords.net/news/2016/12/6/elle-paul-verhoeven-2016
Title: Re: Elle
Post by: JakeIsntFake on December 08, 2016, 03:19:19 PM
Unraveling the main character's initial reaction to an assault is the true mystery of the film.

For the most part, well said. I would say that it's not quite her initial reaction, but one that subtely develops by the end of the first act, which is a large part of what makes the film so special. That first act is standard home invader/stalker thriller fare; from there Verhoeven turns it completely on its head.

Otherwise, interesting thought. The film, with its ample external, physical mysteries, is really completed by its more abundant internal mysteries.
Title: Re: Elle
Post by: slowpogo on December 08, 2016, 10:19:05 PM
Thanks. You're right, Michele's initial reaction is fleshed out and given a bit more context soon enough, but that initial image of her sweeping up glass is what put the first bug in my brain. I would say that moment (the assault and immediately after) is the inciting incident of the film, for both the external and internal mysteries.
Title: Re: Elle
Post by: Totoro on December 09, 2016, 02:31:28 AM
It's established fairly early on that she went through a fairly traumatic event at an extremely early age which continued to haunt her by memory and society for years, even until now. That inhuman comment is weird, but not surprising, given Tasha's other reviews.

I found the movie on the whole to be silly, perverted fun. I don't see many grand statements about feminism in one way or another, so I ultimately found it to be pretty shallow by the end.

Title: Re: Elle
Post by: DarkeningHumour on December 10, 2016, 03:10:09 AM
What about the statement that rape victims don't have to be defined by their trauma and don't have to remain victims ? Or that you're allowed to define what normal sexuality means to you ?
Title: Re: Elle
Post by: slowpogo on December 10, 2016, 10:39:35 AM
What about the statement that rape victims don't have to be defined by their trauma and don't have to remain victims ? Or that you're allowed to define what normal sexuality means to you ?

^^Yup. Although potential consequences for any behavior are not discounted...the neighbor ends up dead, after all.
Title: Re: Elle
Post by: Bondo on February 12, 2017, 09:34:36 PM
One thing I found interesting is when she's in the doctor's office after her mother's stroke, she doubts her mother, thinking it is a cry for attention. Considering this is often a reaction to rape victims, I don't think it was accidentally voiced in this other context. It is kind of showing her to be crazy for asking, which thus implies it is crazy for a rape doubter to ask too. Reminds me a bit of the "if we treated physical injuries the way we do mental illness" jokes.

Overall I really liked it. She's so judgmental of everyone else's romantic choices even as she engages in questionable ones (the affair more than the rape/rape fantasy). And then we see how she seems to carry guilt about her childhood trauma and takes a certain amount of suffering on through the interactions with the neighbor because she feels like she deserves it or something.
Title: Re: Elle
Post by: cinemareigns on February 13, 2017, 08:53:38 AM
I've had a lot of curious thoughts about the relationship with her father and that whole storyline. Did that experience help make her a killer? Was she a bigger participant in the murders her father committed than the film makes obvious to us? Does she take things into her own hands because of her horrible experience with authorities as a child?
Title: Re: Elle
Post by: DarkeningHumour on February 13, 2017, 09:30:16 AM
Bondo, did I miss your review somewhere? I have been looking forward to it.
Title: Re: Elle
Post by: Bondo on February 13, 2017, 11:47:36 AM
The above is the extent I have posted about it after seeing it yesterday. I'm not sure I have a whole big formal review in me.
Title: Re: Elle
Post by: DarkeningHumour on February 14, 2017, 03:40:02 AM
What if I make a kickstarter?
Title: Re: Elle
Post by: slowpogo on February 18, 2017, 05:56:29 PM
I've had a lot of curious thoughts about the relationship with her father and that whole storyline. Did that experience help make her a killer? Was she a bigger participant in the murders her father committed than the film makes obvious to us? Does she take things into her own hands because of her horrible experience with authorities as a child?

I think it's all about control. She lost control of her life (for a while) because of her father's murder spree -- I don't think she was a knowing part of it but the media attention, the bad treatment by police, all left her without a feeling of control. Sometimes she still feels that (the scene where she's told off in the cafe).

That is what the video game stuff is all about. As a video game exec she's in control of an entire (virtual) world and all its details; that job choice makes sense if you consider her thirst for control. Also, right after the rape, what does she do? She takes control of her environment, sweeping up the broken vase. She takes a bubble bath, as if to say, "I may have been raped, but I'M still in control of this evening."

When her father dies, that is also the start of her relaxing her control. By the end of the movie, you see her letting her ex-husband play her company's finished video game, a metaphor for the fact that she's letting him back into her life instead of holding him at arm's length (just after that she refers him to her colleague to start planning his game idea). By the way, the video game imagery is important throughout; at the end, you also see the female video game character (which was assaulted/murdered earlier in the movie, an obvious stand-in for our main character) "reborn" out of an egg/pod thing into a powerful, independent character ready to kick ass (another metaphor).
Title: Re: Elle
Post by: Pratters on July 22, 2018, 02:33:06 PM
Watched it today. Really liked it.

Why did she eventually

a) tell on her boyfriend to her friend
b) kill the rapist
Title: Re: Elle
Post by: DarkeningHumour on July 23, 2018, 03:23:04 AM
Doesn't she say she is tired of all the lying and sneaking around? That's what the entire ending of the movie is, her being done with all the messed up stuff she finds herself in. She mends bridges with her son, ends the affair and kills the guy, because even though they were having this consensual rape fantasy thing, he did originally rape her, which he could not be let to get away with.
Title: Re: Elle
Post by: Pratters on July 23, 2018, 05:26:32 PM
Yeah..