Elle’s tale of subversion an interesting commentary on rape culture


Isabelle Huppert stars in a  subversive drama at an independent cinema near you.

When looking for a change of scenery from the predictability of La La Land, look no further.  Elle, directed by Paul Verhoueven, centres upon Michele, also the CEO of a video-game company. She is attacked by a masked man who breaks into her house who leaves without a trace, leading to a tale of mystery.

Elle is typically abstract in its portrayal of assault aftermath. It travels from one scene to the next with a flourish. Michele dries her tears and carries on as normal. She treats the attack as a mystery that she has to solve, and refuses to speak to the police. This reveals an underlying fear of being arrested.

Michele is not a perfect character. Her human fallibilities are nonetheless riveting. Meanwhile, her family life is a shambles. Her mother is seeing a young man, her father is in prison and her son is expecting a child that isn’t his.

Michele’s married neighbour seems to be the only rational person in the film, . Another close friend sticks by her, but knows little of Michele’s secrets. Michele has to put up with an office full of snide pranks, another scandal that occurs in the same week. She suspects many of her staff of being the culprit of the break-in.

One memorable scene subverts the whole perception of rape. Michele becomes a powerful force to be reckoned with.  She no longer plays the stereotype of woman as victim. Michele takes empowerment from her experience.

isabelle huppert
elle – subversion

How far the male director, Paul Verhoueven aims to travel with this interpretation of consent is anyone’s guess.

Elle is a novel, despite somewhat disturbing, version of events. This film offers a subversive version of events- the other side of third-wave feminism. Well worth a watch.

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