Paul Verhoevan is one of the most notable filmmakers of the late 20th century, there I said it. He is of Robocop, Starship Troopers and Total Recall fame. However after his unbroken run of cult classic science fiction films he moved on to other genres bringing his risque mix of sex and violence with him, with mixed results. Showgirls being the most notable flop from this shift in genre focus.
However, the man is 78 years old and he is still directing films. Unfortunately, Hollywood appears to have spurned him. So he has taken his decades of expertise and knowledge to the French film industry instead. And whilst there, he has made this wonderful character driven film about the impact of rape on victims, power balances in various relationships , the nature of denial and also a stark depiction of social life in France. Let us take a look.
So to start off, don’t be put off by the fact the people on screen aren’t speaking English, the subtitling is perfectly adequate for even morons like me who have only basic French, to get by and enjoy themselves. Besides, very little of a film’s quality is lost through subtitles, in my opinion. Fact is, this film is one of the best to come out in 2016, up there with the Korean Fingersmith adaptation known as The Handmaiden and all the great western films to come out last year.
The main character played by Isabelle Huppart, runs a game development studio. She leads a very messy social life with strained relationships with her family, and she also messes around with her friends husband. All of this comes to a head when she is assaulted and raped in her own home by a malicious masked stranger. She must come to terms with her lifelong denial complex, due to her hardened nature caused by very traumatic past events in her life.
All the actors are excellent, and an air of intrigue is held up by the slow burn pacing of the film’s narrative. The violence is visceral as one would expect from this director, however a certain amount of tact and restraint in comparison to something like Robocop is evident in this film. Verhoevan still has an eye for finding the optimal composure for shots presenting two people sitting and talking, rivalling even Tarantino in that regard.
So its safe to say I have to say little more to express that this is a great film, deserving of all the awards and critical praise. It may be uncomfortable at times due to the subject matter, but soldier on and you will enjoy it. That is if you can find a screening in the first place.