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I wouldn’t say that I am the greatest admirer of Verhoeven’s oeuvre, but there are definitely a couple of items on his list that are unforgettable in their own way: Total Recall, Basic Instinct and Starship Troopers are eminently watchable and (at least I believe so) intellectually profound entertainment behemoths, Black Book at least an interesting nonconformist challenge to the audiences. “Elle” is … different. It is a mature drama with an outstanding performance by Isabelle Huppert at its centre, one of those very few actors and / or actresses that spike my interest in a film whatever it is about or by whom it was made (others: Michael Shannon, Viggo Mortensen, … hm… the list is very short, it seems). Huppert makes the film work, even though the script is not thoroughly convincing. The film depicts a rape victim’s reaction to the violation in a way that questions many if not most of the expectations. Here is a woman that has been broken and violated in more than one instance, and yet she is – in her own way – in no way willing to have her victimized. She takes control of the situation and her environment, roughs herself through the calamities of her private and professional life, but never gets thrown into the pitfall of revenge heroine that less skilled authors would have written for her. This creates large (LARGE) moral ambiguity, and that is what makes the movie an excellent one. Every person coming to see this may have other moments “Honestly, you are NOT doing that!”, but my guess is everybody will have one or two of those. As always, Verhoeven loves to make a contribution to the debates around feminism, objectification, media consumption and all those other topics than can make the world a glorious or a ghastly place. Huppert takes it all on, fearlessness impersonated that she is, and makes us leave the cinema wanting to read up on all the reviews and discuss with our friends. That’s the way to do it!

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