An obsessive fertile imagination is vital to securing freedom for divorced Parisian beautician, Muriel (Sandrine Kiberlain) in this Claude Chabrol-style thriller. When rock star Vincent Lacroix (Laurent Lafitte) accidentally kills his girlfriend during a lover’s tiff, he approaches Muriel, his most loyal fan, and persuades her to dispose of the body. It’s a straightforward job (according to Vincent): just a trip over the Swiss border and the following of a few simple instructions …
At first scratch, Jeanne Herry’s debut feature is about a slightly pathetic woman with a gift for telling tall tales. She’s a sad fantasist who makes an unwise choice to help the man with whom she is obsessed. Delving deeper, though, we find ourselves getting closer to Muriel, impressed by how she navigates her solitude and talks herself out of serious police trouble.
Muriel’s position is beautifully pegged out by Kiberlain’s patient and calm performance. Her naturalism is compelling and she plays Muriel with a still, controlled spine. She could easily be your beautician or the woman standing beside you at the rock concert. Kiberlain is the girl-next-door, yet there is a halo around her ordinariness, and it is this that makes her cinema.
Lafitte plays Vincent’s cavernous ego with charm and a metallic, clanging panic: he is a big bear-of-a-man, with a handsome smile that’s as wide as the lies he tells to protect himself from the police. He stands always alone in his fame. Selfish and scared.
Stapled to Elle L’Adore, is a pleasing side-story, worth mentioning. Two of the cops on the investigation team are in a romance-tangle: their love is strong, but she can’t stop sleeping with other men. This surprising infidelity is a clear-cut against the isolated fan-idol relationship between Muriel and Vincent. Muriel faithfully adores a man with whom she is not intimate. Herry is striving for depth here and it is largely down to Kiberlain’s mesmeric performance that she succeeds. This is a real delight, sadly overlooked by a limited UK release earlier this year.
Director: Jeanne Herry
Elle L’Adore is currently streaming on Amazon Prime Video