Although it probably wasn't ever spoken out loud (why would it have needed to be?) I imagine once upon a time the general consensus was that you couldn't make a movie about the Holocaust that was sexy. The two, they don't seem to go hand in hand, you know? Then along came Paul Verhoeven in 2006 with Black Book and there was Carice Van Houten giggling while dying her pubic hair an Aryan shade of gold or writhing around nude under a Flashdance bucket of human waste, and suddenly there they were, the Holocaust and the sexy-times, hand in hand skipping merrily through the land, the best of new friends. It just worked - magically, effortlessly, inexplicably.
Magic is the key word, because Paul Verhoeven is a magician. Or at least a Devil anyway, one with magic movie fingers. Because here we are again, cozying up to the uncomfortable and impossible - Paul Verhoeven has gone and made the funniest damn Rape Movie you are ever gonna see.
(What's next? Child murder? Child murder! He's gong to make a rollicking and adorable adventure movie about child murder. You heard it here first!)
Anyway say what you will about Paul Verhoeven's movies... because that's exactly the point. He wants you to say things, to talk, to scratch his eyes out with venom and rage and disgust or to get horny as heck and then to feel disgusted with yourself for feeling horny as heck - he wants to get the blood pumping from your heart to your head to your other blood-pumping places, and then he wants it to switch directions and swim back and around again. His movies should be prescribed to diabetics - they'll get your blood circulating and then some.
Elle stars everybody's favorite go-for-it (it being it, you know, it it it) actress Isabelle Huppert as a video-game designer (which allows the director the opportunity to occasionally toss in some CG sci-fi weirdness a la Starship Troopers) who finds herself on the wrong side of a sex-prowler - before you know it she's skulking around the neighborhood brandishing a fucking axe and feeling things, questionable things, inside herself.
I don't want to go into specifics any deeper than that - this is a movie to discover, and feel insulted and astonished by, all on your own. It's the most daring and insane thing you'll see on screen this year. It is going to make lots of people very angry, if we're still capable of getting angry about movies, and it wants to. I want it to. I cherished feeling aghast and alive and falling out of my chair with flabbergasted laughter. Movies should be able to make us angry and wild-eyed and unsure of which way is up. They should try. We need to be riled up, knocked around, spun off our comfortable axis.
You watch a movie like Elle and you think about all the painkillers that've saturated our water supply and how they've drained the life right out of all of us and our art, except for Paul Verhoeven, except for Isabelle Huppert, these crazy people who thrive and provoke and dare to disturb with cold hard terrifying nimble and sweet psycho bat-shit old-fashioned entertainment. Nobody but nobody is making movies like this, so cherish this -- cherish it, people. Elle will make you a better person. Or at least a crazier person, and that's better if you ask me.