hose of you who follow the Outline film pages will know that we love

a bit of controversy, and movies don’t get much more controversial than March’s film of the month, Elle. Directed by Paul Verhoeven, who is no stranger to causing a storm-in-a-gender- tea-cup, be it for the right reasons (Basic Instinct), or the wrong ones (Showgirls), this European rape-revenge comedy thriller (yes, you read that correctly) has already gained an Oscar nomination for its leading actress, Isabelle Huppert, but is dividing opinion ever since it closed the Cannes film festival. And for good reason.

You see, it’s not that the opening sexual assault is so shocking (although it is), but it’s the fact that the movie denies you the expected (and valid) moral outrage that you assume would follow such a horrifically offensive act. Don’t get me wrong, in no way does this movie condone the rape, but Huppert’s “victim” is as complex a character as you will ever see on

screen, and denies the audience the sympathy that one would expect to follow such a violent and reprehensible opening act.

And this is where some people will love the movie, and others will hate it. It’s also clear to see that this is why this film couldn’t get made in Hollywood, and part of the reason why I’m attracted to it. Because it’s dares to be different. And so few films do these days. Verhoeven uses this darkly complex, psychologically nuanced, black magnet of a movie, to push the audience’s buttons like a two year old with a television remote. Huppert’s Oscar nomination is well deserved as she gives the lead performance of her career, and indeed, of anybody else’s. So, if you’re looking for something French, morally ambiguous, and surprisingly humorous, then this is the film for you. If, however, you like your moral ground to be of the higher variety then it might pay to give it a swerve lest you end up offended, because this is film-making-as-art. And whilst art is supposed to make you think, it makes no promises that you’ll like it.


ou know when you go to the movies with

a friend and the film has an interesting premise but is ultimately not very good, so afterwards you sit and discuss what you would have done differently to make it better? A pointless exercise unless you happen to be filmmakers, but we all do it, right? Well, Arrival is what would’ve come from that discussion if Stanley Kubrick and Kurt Vonnegut had just watched Independence Day.

When twelve giant spacecraft appear in random locations across the world, linguistics professor Louise Banks (Amy Adams) and mathematician Ian Donnelly (Jeremy Renner) are hired by the US government to decode and translate the alien’s language in order to communicate with them and discover their purpose on Earth. Solid turns from Renner as Donnelly and Forest Whitaker as a keen-for- results yet sympathetic Army Colonel, but the real

standout performance is from Amy Adams herself (sadly overlooked at the Academy Awards for both this and Nocturnal Animals). Louise is a complex character dealing with her own feelings of loss and sadness, undertaking the job of a lifetime, trying to actively decode an utterly alien language from scratch. With delicate facial expressions and body language Adams manages to convincingly balance wide-eyed wonder and the weight of expectation from the government and media.

Director Denis Villeneuve follows up the sublime Sicario with yet another sumptuous looking film full of tension that leaves you guessing right until the end, and composer Jóhann Jóhannsson’s score only serves to heighten that tension. Te fact that they shall reunite for this year’s Blade Runner sequel is very exciting indeed.

An intelligent take on a well worn genre that leaves the viewer questioning the very nature of language, time and humanity.


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