Overview/ Review (with Spoilers)
If you thought Gone Girl was twisted, oh you haven’t seen nothing yet.
Rape (Multiple Scenes) | Domestic Abuse (Verbal and Physical)
Michèle (Isabelle Huppert) | Richard (Charles Berling)
Characters & Storyline
A rape within the first scene of the film sets the tone, as well as how Michèle acts almost nonchalant about it thereafter. For she has seen and experienced horror, so what is this but another thing to add to the list. Plus, there are mixed feelings about the whole ordeal it seems.
That aside, she has too much on her plate to deal with cops, who she has despised since an incident in her childhood, for she is running a company with her best friend, she has a grown son whose girlfriend is controlling and erratic, and she is the mistress to a man who is barely satisfying anymore but keeps her on her toes.
Though with it seeming her rapist has decided to become a stalker, and decides to take their obsession to her place of work, so comes a more cautious, though barely fearful, Michèle. For even as things become more serious, she continues to be unbothered for there is so much more to worry about than a coward who doesn’t simply ask for what, if he is interesting and attractive, she may freely give.
Things To Note
I think when it comes to the Oscars, and other award ceremonies, it is going to be between Emma Stone’s likability vs. Isabelle Huppert’s performance. But I say this before watching Arrival, Miss Sloane, and Jackie.
Huppert Is Stunning
While beautiful, yes, I mean stunning in terms of shock more than anything. The way rape is handled, the way she handles her odd mother, the past of her father, her staff, her friendships and more, it makes it hard to believe there was a time Nicole Kidman, Sharon Stone, and many others were considered for this role. It seems almost written for Huppert who, almost in a Helen Mirren sense, has this eternal charm yet just as much seems she would kiss you on the lips and stab you in the gut over something you did decades ago.
The story is comprised of a few mysteries and it tries to redirect your attention and throw you off enough to the point you aren’t just sure who did it, but what the reason could be behind it. For one thing, I don’t think was often advertised, is Michèle’s family past which deals with the type of act which has haunted one town for more than a generation. So with that, her working in a company where most of her male staffers reportedly hate her, then, of course, the usual demented who like stealing a woman’s power, dignity, and comfort, you are left constantly question who could it be?
All the while, it was strange to not see Michèle done in by the act. Which is part of the praise you need to give to screenwriter David Birke. Michèle is never written to be a victim. In a way, you can barely call her a survivor either for while she buys weapons and pepper spray, and has some PTSD, as the situation evolves you almost question the whole situation and whether you truly know what you think you know.
On The Fence
I’m often conflicted when it comes to the role of supporting actors. Should they be presented strong enough to stand out, maybe perhaps even steal the lead actor’s thunder, or should their character solely be about the lead’s journey. This is something I struggle with, especially once the movie is over, for, honestly, while many of Michèle’s family and friends have full lives without her, they aren’t given enough energy or time to make it so their character feels even the least bit autonomous. I mean, even with us meeting one of Richard’s, Michèle’s ex-husband, girlfriends, it seems not so much about her ex moving on as finding a way to bring up why they divorce and show there is still some part of her that has feelings for him.
Overall: Positive (Worth Seeing) – Recommended
I was in awe, in shock, questioning every motive and decision, and like a child with my elbows on my knees just lost yet focused on the person speaking. And while, yeah, after the fact I was left questioning why some of Michèle’s friends and family put up with her, and some of her decisions, in the movie you are so engaged that this is not even a factor.
But what makes this recommended, and not just something worth seeing, is it’s so different and isn’t reliant on pity, nostalgia, or even the characters being likable. This is purely about performing a role, creating a universe, and bringing you in to the point you don’t want to leave. Thus making me mad I didn’t just haul my behind to NY in November to see this when it first came out.