Monday, January 9, 2017

Cinema Clips: Elle

Posted By on Mon, Jan 9, 2017 at 9:00 AM


Paul Verhoeven, who never really recovered from the delicious calamity that was Showgirls (although Starship Troopers was pretty good), tries his hand again at a female empowerment movie (Yes, Showgirls was supposed to be a female empowerment movie) and he fails miserably.

Isabelle Huppert labors away as Michele, owner of a company that makes terrible videogames. As the film begins, we see her victimized in a graphic assault scene that Verhoeven revisits again and again throughout the film. Michele takes an unconventional approach to the event and, as the mystery of who the assailant is plays out, the movie goes off the rails with weirdness.

I guess Verhoeven is shooting for satire here, but what he winds up with is a ragged, less glossy rehash of eighties flicks like Jagged Edge.

It’s a bad mystery movie that’s trying to be shocking and even funny, but it all feels desperate and trashy. Huppert is a great actress, and she does all she can with what she’s given. Verhoeven, on the other hand, has basically lost it. Actually, he lost it a long time ago. Maybe another director could’ve made the strange elements balance out, rather than having all feel exploitive and wasteful. I hate movies that revel in their cleverness when they are totally not clever. I also hate that the movie tries to explain Michele’s behavior towards her assailant as a product of her violent past. Also, you’ll guess the killer long before the movie is half over. This is garbage.

I noticed it just won the Golden Globe for Best Foreign Film, so I guess I’m just a big, grouchy baby going against the grain on this one. Then again, it’s the Golden Globes.

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