The 10 Worst Movies of 2016

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Image courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics

5. Elle

I’m gonna ask the question: What is the interest in telling stories about women “accepting” their rapists? It’s something that’s been presented in more than one male-written/directed film this year – this week’s Passengers presents a similar “conundrum.” No director depicts things so starkly than Paul Verhoven in his critical darling, Elle. Elle (Isabelle Huppert) is raped and soon comes to develop a mutual relationship, of sorts, with her rapist. The movie thinks this will foster some type of discussion, but I could only fathom the question above.

A movie like Elle seems to act as both a rape apologist film and a feminist call to arms, though I disagree on the latter. There’s nothing wrong with rape revenge movies if they are presented with some level of nuance. Unfortunately Elle is a bitter, driven ice queen whose as hated as she is apparently lusted after by every man with a penis. We watch her rape twice, enough to induce a panic attack, and the third act fancies itself an erotic thriller as Elle and her rapist play sexual games. Newsflash: he can’t really perform unless he thinks he’s raping her. By the end I was left feeling so sickened and scummy I needed a shower. Someone could say that’s the film’s intent, to make audiences uncomfortable. But considering Verhoven’s presented rape in a few other films in his past, it’s not a theme, it’s a pattern.

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