Kamloops Film Festival in review: Elle

Each year, The Omega reviews the films presented at the Kamloops Film Festival. The festival runs through March 11.

Paul Verhoeven is certainly one to provoke. From the ultra-violence of RoboCop to the satire of Starship Troopers, he has always pushed to evoke a very primitive reaction in his audiences. This may be proven more true than ever with his latest film starring the now Golden Globe winning Isabelle Huppert. She plays a woman who, in the opening scene is being raped by a masked intruder, then goes back to her daily routine after the attacker flees. The subject of female sexuality and the representation of women in media are pondered and investigated with a script that truly offers no solid answer for any of the proceedings.

Huppert herself is spectacular in a role that never lets her guard down. Her presence is commanding and involved, often piling layer upon layer in a performance that makes you wonder if she may secretly be some sort of helpless sociopath. And at this moment it must be stated that the gender politics of the film are front and centre but never cliché. The script is too smart to paint Huppert’s game designer Michèle as a victim as she never pretends to be. Laurent Lafitte also is given a very interesting role as the married neighbour of Michèle who may just be in the eyes of her affection.

Without being heavy handed or melodramatic, the darkly funny film is swift in shifting genres and staying several steps ahead of its audience as the central mystery soon morphs into an original and inventive game of cat and mouse. Unfolding like a triptych puzzle box, Verhoeven and Huppert have created a film that is sure to bring about plenty of discussion, be it the theories around the ending, to the wicked mind games it is willing to play, or even the radicalized politics that permeate the story. It is a film that astounds in its willingness to “just go there.”