Elle is an alienating mixture of South American surrealism and the classic Hollywood melodrama of e.g. Douglas Sirk (of whom Sarmiento is a great fan). The husband is in love, the wife is not averse to being loved and yet they are not happy. At least, not in the usual sense of the word. The man is after all rather too much in love to be not a little paranoid and the wife, slightly Hitchcock and fairly nervous, is too carried away by his love to be not a little shocked. He regards her as a match for the Venus of Milo, cherishes her as a work of art and tries to perfect her, with all the obsessiveness that entails. They both go their marital ways in a two-sided process of self-destruction, a process that can only be unforgivably comic. On their way from one misunderstanding to the next, each is thrown back on their own loneliness. That is the ‘folie du couple’, the insanity of the couple. A mean, burlesque and banal story, but universal and eternal.
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