Elle (R)

Directed by Paul Verhoeven, written by Philip Djian and starring the amazing Isabelle Huppert, Elle is the story of a woman who has had to overcome an unimaginably difficult childhood and moved on to some level of success, only to be confronted by her past again.

First of all, I must tell you that THIS is an R rated movie. Not for the faint of heart, and only for grown ups.  To say the film features strong sexual themes doesn’t quite describe what goes on here.  There is nothing here for the children.  Understand?  I was questioning whether I am old enough to have seen it.  So if you don’t care to see sex on screen steer all the way clear.  This is not your movie.  Don’t say I didn’t warn you.  Now let’s move on.

Elle is suspenseful, creepy, freaky, and will have you wondering aloud at one point or another, “What the expletive is going on here?!” To which a fellow moviegoer replied delightfully, “I don’t bleeping know!”  You can’t quite get a handle on what is going on, who is who, what is real and what is not, until near the very end, which makes Elle quite an enjoyable, crazy, unique ride.

According to IMDB, the initial plan was for this movie to be produced in the U.S., but a female lead could not be found after the script was turned down by Nicole Kidman, Diane Lane, Julianne Moore, Cate Blanchett and Kate Winslet. As the saying goes, one woman’s trash is another woman’s treasure… Enter Isabelle Huppert, a superbly talented actress who was in nearly every frame of this picture and I just wanted to see more of her.  She is a captivating natural.  Although there was not one slouch in the strong supporting cast, honestly, Huppert was so good I could have cared less about anybody else who was in the movie.  She stole the show and totally owned it.  She is certainly a frontrunner for a Best Actress Oscar.  Not one actress in any movie I’ve seen this year has come close to this performance.  Not yet anyway – but the race is not over just yet.

The plot of Elle loses focus at times.  Going over it may require a chart of some sort using markers, push pins and post-its, and some other tools, because the plot is so intricate at times it becomes too much.  Also, I would have liked the same boundary-pushing energy that existed throughout the movie to continue on through the end of it.  I felt like it ended too “patly,” for a movie that was so daring right from the start.

Elle earned 8.5 out of 10 bloops. It is an exciting, original story.  Isabelle Huppert’s performance earned one outstanding 10.  I am looking forward to what she does next (she has 6 upcoming projects in the works for 2017).  I speak and understand about as much French as the average monolingual American, but I was pulled all the way into this suspenseful, mostly well written, well directed (boy-oh-boy), well-acted thriller.

Bloops:

1   =   worst ever, avoid at all cost
2   =   very bad, forget about it!
3   =   poor movie, not recommended
4   =   not good, even for free – NO!
5   =   so-so, worth it if you don’t have to pay
6   =   not bad, could have been better
7   =   good movie, worth seeing
8   =   great movie, don’t miss it!
9   =   excellent movie, a must see!
10 =   a masterpiece, go see it now!

My Welcome Message

Oscar reviews:

Hidden Figures
Fences
Moonlight
Hell or High Water
Loving
La La Land
Lion
Manchester by the Sea
Arrival
Hacksaw Ridge
Nocturnal Animals
Captain Fantastic
Jackie
Florence Foster Jenkins
I Am Not Your Negro

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