After watching ‘Elle,’ the two friends I went with both said ‘I hated that movie!’ And who could blame them? The movie is a hot mess – it toggles from rape mystery to melodrama to comedy all in the same scene, not one of the characters are likable, and the movie is slow and meandering. Elle, the main character played by Isabelle Hupert, is on every scene and on nearly each one she is doing something rude, unpleasant, or baffling.
But maybe that is why I had a small fondness for the character, as I think about the film now. You have to give plus points for braveness to Hupert for being so defiantly Elle – you can see a total character there so vividly you can smell her perfume (I bet it’s a complicated Guerlain) Hupert doesn’t care to ‘humanize’ the character so the audience can identify and sympathize. She is more concerned about making the character real. Perhaps that is why this performance is resonating with critics – so far it has won for her the New York Film Critics Association, and the Gotham Independent Film Awards. Clearly she is doing something right.
But perhaps most people won’t be able to get past the clunky storytelling, muddled direction, and the emotional excesses here. I could shorten the movie by twenty minutes and would get the same effect. Bottom line – I didn’t hate the movie, but at the same time won’t be lining up to see it again. I appreciate Hupert’s performance who is big and bombastic here (and yes, she can do subtle like in ‘Things To Come.’ my thoughts here . ) and for sure, this film is never boring. I may even recommend it.