There are few films that I have seen that are as disturbing as Elle. Yet is it also a wonderful movie that I’d encourage anyone (over 16) to see. Arguably this is one of the most reflective tales of the current societal state of disassociation, but reduced to the sketches of the personal life of Michele Leblanc (Isabelle Huppert). I might go a little further to suggest that there is arguably a little too much thrown into the film, but that all rather depends on how you interpret.
Make no mistake, this is a traumatic movie. It begins with a rape scene which sets the story in motion and how the viewer reacts to this and the subsequent information. The setting of a severely dysfunctional family provides the context for the series of choices that emerge. There is no attempt to explain or pacify the viewer. This is a harsh, brutal look at “real life” and contemporary life.
A day of signficant trauma
I am conscious of tension that I really don’t want to spoil the film for you, yet wish to convey some of the plot. What is explained is that Michele is the daughter of a devout Catholic man who had managed to repress some of horrific feelings, which are then released in a day of carnage in her childhood and her mass murdering father is imprisoned. There are no explanations or justifications. What follows is assumed to be built upon the backlash of hatred towards the family. It is this trauma upon which Michele gradually builds her life. Relationships are inevitably strained and detached.
This virtual reality
In many respects, what we accept as normal, or ordinary without a questioning mind can leave us all somewhat detached from reality. It also leaves us poorer within a context that could be so much better. This is not a film about victim mentality, but of passive, detached voyeurism. Whether that be the obviously disturbing video game violence or the inability to value relationship. A religious persona that masks deep violence and crime against other. A simple a lack of honesty or inability to take responsibility, all the while soothed by a plethora of cute cat videos and nice cars. We are the sum of our choices.
The sum of your choices
So, what on earth has this to do with financial planning? I would argue that your choices are significant. A choice to do nothing is still a choice. People worry about money, but do little to address those concerns, making the choice to defer, to delay. Time is against us. It is the one resource that we all have equally today. The choices you are making compound into a result. Financial planning provides the space and opportunity for you to reflect on what you genuinely value, to challenge your own thinking and the narrative of our consumer culture. However, we all have a past, some have experienced awful traumas, this needs to be addressed if a better future is to be created. We all have limitations, but almost all have unlimited desires. A sense of peace and direction can be achieved when these are identified thoughtfully and respectfully.
The lubricant of modern life
Many people are detached from their finances, seeing them merely as a necessary lubricant for getting through life. Yet finance is active, we invest globally. We know the power of money and the pain of not having enough. Money can be violent or it can bring respite and relief. Somehow a healthy balanced view towards money needs to be constructed by each of us, which can act as the map to get us where we really want to be. In short, to be engaged with your finances, your financial plan needs to reflect your values – the real ones, some of which may be painful.
Here is the trailer for this very good, but disturbing movie, which has collected several awards and for which Isabelle Huppert is nominated for an Oscar as Best Leading Actress.
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