Here is my review for Elle, by Philippe Djian.
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Elle is a psychological thriller that recounts thirty days in the life of its heroine Michèle—powerfully portrayed by Isabelle Huppert in Paul Verhoeven’s award-winning film—where memory, sex, and death collide at every page.
A few weeks before Christmas, Michèle picks herself up from her living room floor. She has been raped. She has almost no recollection of her attacker but she senses his presence—he is never far away—and this uncanny feeling triggers a whirlwind of events and memories. She begins to fear she is losing her grip on a life already complicated by a demanding job, an ex-husband with a new girlfriend, a jealous lover, and a son trapped in a relationship with his girlfriend pregnant by another man.
Hardened by the consequences of her father’s violent past, Michèle—in her fifties, fiercely independent and unsentimental—refuses to be reduced to a victim. When her rapist begins taunting her with messages, she takes measures to protect herself until she discovers his identity…
Through the bitingly sarcastic and unflinchingly realist voice of its heroine, Elle paints a striking portrait of one woman’s experience that challenges our notions of masculinity and femininity, weakness and strength.
- can’t really think of one
- doesn’t add anything to the experience in case you’ve seen the movie already
- doesn’t translate very well the point it’s trying to make
- felt to edgy to understand as a person, and too unbelievable, as a woman
I really like Paul Verhoeven’s work and after all the Oscar buzz the movie inspired by this story was getting, I saw it. And I was very intrigued by it. It’s one of those tales that leaves you thinking. Mostly, I wasn’t sure what I thought about this woman that, after being raped, starts kinda wanting to be again and ends up in this strange relationship with her abuser. I don’t know, it just reads as trying to be really edgy and not really making any point. So that makes the whole book and its narrative kinda unbelievable. It’s hard to read something you don’t really see, understand or even agree with the point. Besides, the only major difference I saw from the movie was how Elle’s company produces movies instead of video games. It seemed kinda pointless to read the whole thing since I’ve already experienced the story once and this didn’t really bring me anything new. And I didn’t even appreciate the writing itself. There’s not really a sense of time passing or even change from each scene. Everything is just writing all together. That’s not particularly a problem to me since I read Saramago and he doesn’t even use paragraph changes but for some reason, it really bothered and confused me here. My whole reaction to this book was just, meh.
Have you seen the movie? What were your thoughts on it?