The Paul Verhoeven-directed 'Elle' stars Isabelle Huppert

Director Paul Verhoeven has defended his new movie Elle from controversy after some critics labelled it a “rape comedy”.

Elle stars Isabelle Huppert as a woman who is raped in her home but fails to report the crime to police. Despite widespread acclaim, the movie has also proved controversial due to its mixing of black comedy with such a serious topic. Indiewire described it as a “lighthearted rape-revenge story”, while Time Out said that it is “a film that will inspire debate for decades to come”.

The Dutch filmmaker – known for movies RoboCop, Total Recall and Basic Instinct – recently spoke to the Irish Times, saying of criticism his latest film has faced: “I know those objections exists. I reject the notion that the seriousness of the rape would exclude anything funny elsewhere in the film. I feel that would be dogma from a dictator. You cannot do that. Real life is full of elements that are opposite to one another.”

He added: “There is this and it is horrible and there is that and it’s funny. There is no law that says you can’t juxtapose such things.”

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Verhoeven also told The Week: “I can imagine some scenes would shock people. But I didn’t try to shock, I used the rape as a point of narrative. It had to be there and it had to be violent. You can’t make a rape and not make it violent. I didn’t do it because I wanted to push buttons. I felt it was necessary and I was aware some people might be upset.”

Elle is not a revenge movie,” he continued. “It’s an exaggerated version of love your enemy, so it’s Jesus.”

Watch a trailer for the film below: