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International Film Forum: ELLE

From site: Arts at Carleton

Part of the Tournees Festival of French Films on campus this fall.

Date: Monday, October 16th, 2017

Time: 7:00 pm

Duration: 2 hours, 10 minutes

Location: Weitz Cinema

Contact: Steven Richardson, x4389

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The first French film by Paul Verhoeven, the Dutch provocateur behind such sneakily subversive Hollywood fare as Robocop and Basic Instinct, Elle is a work of startling moral complexity, a constantly surprising narrative that provides an in-depth, occasionally uncomfortable portrait of a well-to-do Paris woman with more than a few secrets.

The film begins when Michèle Leblanc, the co-owner of a successful video game company, is sexually assaulted by a masked man in her own home. Through Michèle’s unusual response to her assault and eventual discovery of the culprit, the viewer learns about her past and comes to understand what has shaped her blunt, sometimes shocking personality. Elle explores the dark, mystifying sides of the psyche, but with a light touch and fast pace that allow Verhoeven to make the most of his characters’ comic foibles. One only has to compare Elle’s bumbling men to its powerful heroine to realize that this is a feminist film, one that furthers the discussion on rape and trauma, but, most importantly, portrays women in positions of strength.

Nominated for a 2017 Academy Award for her work in Elle, Isabelle Huppert delivers another brave, illuminating performance. As Verhoeven has stated in interviews, one always sees what Michèle is thinking in Huppert’s eyes. In a film that plumbs the depths of human complexity, this access to the intricacies of the mind is nothing short of riveting.

Paul Verhoeven