Elle

Elle

Paul Verhoeven (2016)

125min
18 Certificate
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Review

Our Score
Dutch provocateur Paul Verhoeven learned French in order to set this bold, surprising adaptation of prize-winning novel Oh... in genteel Paris, with Isabelle Huppert in the taxing role of divorced video game CEO Michèle Leblanc, raped at home by a masked intruder in the harrowing opening moments. To simplistically call the neo-noir that follows a revenge thriller overlooks the delectable undercurrent of Gallic social satire in David Birke's script (a scene involving a nightmare Christmas dinner rivals anything from a Mike Leigh drama). There's also the fact the sexual assault fades from the foreground while Michèle deals with the other convoluted threads of her life: her feckless son's rushed marriage; an affair with the husband of her business partner (Anne Consigny); her sexually flagrant elderly mother's gigolo toy boy; and an unimaginable childhood trauma that feeds everything (and dissuades Michèle from reporting the rape to the police). The attack, repeatedly shown, is brutal and terrifying, but Huppert is anything but a victim, surrounded on all sides by weak men, which at least suggests a feminist slant. You could say Verhoeven has translated his own Basic Instinct into French, but this film benefits from the change of setting and will spark debate about everything from violent computer games and sexual empowerment to lax suburban crime prevention for days to come.

Cast & Crew

Michèle Leblanc Isabelle Huppert
Patrick Laurent Laffite
Anna Anne Consigny
Richard Charles Berling
Rebecca Virginie Efira
Robert Christian Berkel
Irène Judith Magre
Vincent Jonas Bloquet
Josie Alice Isaaz
Hélène Vimala Pons
Director Paul Verhoeven
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Other Information

Language: French +subtitlesColourTheatrical distributor: PicturehouseGuidance: Violence, sexual references.Available on: DVD and Blu-rayReleased on: 10 Mar 2017