Elle

4
Elle review film poster

Director: Paul Verhoeven
Cast: Isabelle Huppert, Laurent Lafitte, Anne Consigny
Genre: Drama
Language: French with English subtitles
Country of Origin: France-Germany 2016 130 mins. (18)
Released by Picturehouse Entertainment

Debate's a certainty with Paul Verhoeven's gripping, challenging and provocative adaptation of Philippe Dijan's novel 'Oh...' that treads into disturbing territory.

Isabelle Huppert is terrific as Michelle Leblanc, the director of a Paris based video games company, brutally raped by a masked intruder. She locks the door, cleans up, has a bubble bath and goes for dinner with friends. No call to the police. That's not expected.

Family, friends and work fill Michelle's days. In the competitive video games world Michelle oversees the next title with its brutal content, she's having an on-off affair with her best friend and business partner Anna's (Anne Consigny) husband (Robert Christian Berkel), would-be novelist, ex-husband Richard (Charles Berling), pushes a title for a new game, her weak son Vincent's (Jonas Bloquet) overbearing pregnant girlfriend Josie (Alice Isaaz) irritates, she's attracted to her neighbour Patrick (Laurent Lafitte), her mother (Judith Magre) has a young lover and memories of her father, the 1970s serial killer, Charles Leblanc linger. Violence and fear are part of Michelle's past.

It's as though the rape is in the background but when her attacker sends text messages, a hint of fear surfaces. Soon back in control, Michelle's drawn to the fear and arousal of the sexual assault and the identity of the rapist. A confident woman's challenge or an exploitative spectacle?

Challenging, ambiguous and provocative, a black comedy, psychological thriller that's not an easy watch but Verhoeven and the extraordinary Huppert have pulled off a well balanced and powerful piece of cinema.

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Release Type: 
Release date: 
Friday, March 10, 2017 - 01:00