B.erlin (dpa) – Isabelle Huppert was even nominated for this role at the Oscars four years ago – alongside, for example, Meryl Streep, Natalie Portman and Ruth Negga.
In the end Emma Stone won for “La La Land”, but the French Huppert would certainly have deserved it. Because their portrayal in the film “Elle” is disturbingly good. On Friday evening (10.9., 10:25 p.m.) Paul Verhoeven’s work (“Basic Instinct”, “Total Recall”) will be shown on 3sat.
Are you allowed to laugh about a rape in a movie? Such an act and humor don’t seem to go together at all.
But with «Elle» a lot is different. The film tells of a rape and is drama, thriller and comedy at the same time. Above all, Isabelle Huppert makes the film an event.
The French play Michèle Leblanc, a successful woman in her fifties who lives alone and runs a company that designs video games. One day she is attacked and raped by an unknown masked man in her home.
In broad daylight
It is the key scene of the film: How Michèle is pushed to the ground in broad daylight in her posh home. Are their screams screams of fear, pain or even pleasure?
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 clearly clarified.
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.
Moral evaluation denied
Instead, she tries to reinterpret the game of power and submission for herself. This is unlikely to be easy for most rape victims and may sound like a mockery to some. But the film “Elle”, which is based on a book by Philippe Djian, clearly sees itself as fiction and refuses to make 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 doesn’t 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 him, but challenges viewing habits.
© dpa-infocom, dpa: 210908-99-135456 / 2