Video Note:
Elle
25 September 2018

¶ In bed with the vapors, I watched Paul Verhoeven’s Elle. The way everyone speaks of this extraordinary movie, it ought to be called Isabelle Huppert’s Elle. She seems to be in charge of everything, even when she’s gasping on the floor after a sexual assault. 

I rented the video on Thursday; it was due back Sunday. I could have used my September coupon and, for the first time, used up the entire annual booklet. But I couldn’t manage to see the film when Kathleen wasn’t around. Ordinarily, she’s impervious to movies she’s not watching, but I sensed that there would be some screaming and grunting, hard not to hear, and boy, was I right. So, here I was, too days late. 

After the astonishingly satisfying surprise ending, I thought, That’s that. But a few hours later, I was still haunted — not by the gruesome scenes, but by Huppert’s unflinching imperturbability. Her character ought to come across as the monster that she is, but Huppert presents us with a very complicated, wryly charming bonne bourgeoise. Will I rent this video again — or will I buy it? Maybe I ought to watch 8 Femmes again first. 

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