Surely a woman will not really enjoy such a crime? But Verhoeven doesn’t make it that easy for himself or for the audience. Because what Michèle actually feels is never clear.
Rather, Huppert shows a complex reaction in “Elle” that cannot be foreseen. It may also have something to do with her own dark past why she doesn’t go to the police.
The decisive factor, however, is that Michèle does not see herself in the role of the suffering victim and withdraws traumatized – she does not want to get down and let this act determine her life.
Instead, she tries to reinterpret the game of power and submission for herself. For most rape victims this will probably not be so easy and it will certainly sound like a mockery to some. But the movie “Elle”, which is based on a book by Philippe Djian, clearly sees itself as a fiction and refuses a moral assessment.
Huppert’s precise game thus becomes the remarkable portrait of a strong woman who does not want to adhere to social conventions. Without downplaying the rape, director Verhoeven manages to tell the serious story with slightly exaggerated humor and a flair for bizarre situations.
When Michèle slowly realizes who her tormentor is, it does not lead to dramatic confrontations, but rather to absurdly funny moments. As provocative as this approach may sound – “Elle” never makes fun of the main character or the suffering inflicted on her, but challenges viewing habits.