Businesswoman Michele Leblanc (Isabelle Huppert) seems to be a woman without feelings.
When her mother announces she is marrying a much younger man she laughs at her.
When said mother than has a stroke and dies she ignores her dying wishes
When her best friend’s husband approaches her for an affair she goes with it and then tells her.
And after she is brutally raped she orders takeout.
Only Huppert could make this woman entirely sympathetic but during the course of 2 hours, she proceeds to do exactly that.
She reveals the men around her, from her pussy whipped son to her financially challenged ex-husband, as weak and incompetent and goes about finding her attacker with a detached calm more associated with James Bond than a female rape victim. There is a good deal of humor in this black comedy, notably when LeBlanc announces to her friends at a restaurant that she has been raped the night before, just as the waiter brings a vintage of bottle of champagne. “ I think we should wait a few minutes before opening that” says one of her fellow diners.
During the course of the film we discover the source of her strange distance from those around her and herself, a mass murder committed by her father in which she accidentally becomes implicated. Her father just like the rest of the men in her life has badly let her down.
Indeed, Elle has been described as a rape revenge film but to me the film is more about how Leblanc redefines the meaning of womanhood to survive in a brutal male orientated world.