Finally was able to watch the final of the Oscar buzz films that I needed to see prior to the ceremony. Just in time too. While the film was dropped from the Best Foreign Film category after gaining traction, Isabelle Huppert can very well walk away with an Oscar for her performance in this film. Its a strong, outstanding performance from her for sure.I thought the film was mostly good and a return to a bit of form for Paul Verhoeven. Despite this, I still the think the film could have been better.
I am going to start with the negatives since they aren’t many. The film is quite long and not always focused. The main plot is about a video game company executive named Michele who gets raped in her home. She tries to go about her life as if nothing happened but then finds herself drawn to the rape and the future instances, which really blurs the line between rape, consent, and submission to sexual desire. The film doesn’t always stay focused on what it is at heart. Its honestly hard to pinpoint what the film is really about since there’s a few points of focus. I felt the film doesn’t have many likeable characters. And why would it? Its littered with characters who fall into a theme of philandering. I think the film introduces ideas of religion and the psychopathic nature of Elle’s father; all of which was unnecessary.
The film is long and clouded by things that didn’t exactly meaningfully add to the story. I wasn’t really sure what the film was going to be about. That said, there’s definitely a strong erotic basis for the film which is Verhoeven at his best. The film flirts with the idea of cheating, rape, and consent throughout. Its a pervasive film but its exactly what you would expect from the filmmaker. People will find this film to be disturbing and at times quite vulgar but it remains alluring and pretty hypnotic. As I stated earlier its a return to form for Verhoeven because he plays to his strengths by tackling a sexually charged film once again.
I know Isabelle Huppert isn’t exactly a household name but she should be after this film. Its a magnetic performance. Michele is a bitch at times but very assertive and strong. She explores her sexual desires and boundaries and can handle her life in a very stone faced manner. She has a very complicated past and even mentions she may be a psychopath. Michele is a complex character: honest and at times scathing but its a wonderful portrayal. The film isn’t perfect but I think film lovers need to check it out and form their own opinion on this.