Paul Verhoeven directs this erotic thriller starring Isabelle Huppert who gets caught in a cat and mouse game tracking down the man who raped her.
Isabelle Huppert stars in this gripping thriller as Michele, the CEO of a video game company who is assaulted in her own home. Reluctant to report the incident to the authorities she searches for her assailant’s identity herself. From the film’s very first moments it is apparent that Elle is a dark and disturbing thriller that pulls no punches in it’s portrayal of violence. It fearlessly shows the brutality of Michele’s assault in a way that will shake any audience to its very core and sets the tone for the entire film.
It’s certainly an unsettling transition to watch Michele be so brutally attacked and then watch her go through the motions of living everyday life as though nothing had occurred. If there’s one thing this film does especially well it’s depicting the psychological effect that the sexual assault has on Michele. Huppert’s acting is truly astounding and nuanced as we see how the event has influenced her character’s behaviour both in obvious and more subtle ways. We get a real understanding of what’s going on in her head as she struggles to find a way to tell the people close to her. We see how despite being the victim she shifts blame to herself, experiencing a flashback where she defeats her attacker so the assault never takes place.
But the film doesn’t revolve entirely around Michele’s rape. There is also a great amount of drama injected into the plot. The story often meanders, exploring Michele’s difficult and complex relationships with those around her. From her family to her neighbours and work colleagues. We come to understand that she is already a deeply troubled individual with a traumatic past. In fact, Michele is an impressively complex character and it shows the sheer amount of talent possessed by Isabelle Huppert that she is able to portray so convincingly how dysfunctional she is. Hers is definitely the most impressive and noticeable performance.
As a thriller, Elle keeps a steady pace and the tension is masterfully built. It seems for quite a while that the rape is almost entirely forgotten, the narrative strays quite a way but never ceases to be intriguing. And when Michele is harshly reminded of the incident and her assailant surprisingly resurfaces, we’re just as thrown as she is. Like Michele, we’re consistently kept on our toes, never knowing what her attacker will do next and struggling to guess his identity.
Elle is a dark and controversial thriller, packed with tension and gripping drama. Isabelle Huppert gives an outstanding performance in the lead role and there are many dark twists and turns that make this film unpredictable and unforgettable.
Written by Lauren Miles
Directed by: Paul Verhoeven
Written by: David Birke
Starring: Isabelle Huppert, Laurent Lafitte, Anne Consigny, Charles Berling
Released: 2016 / Genre: Thriller
Country: France/Germany / IMDB
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Top 10 Films reviewed Elle on Blu-ray courtesy of Lionsgate. Elle was released on digital download July 3 2017 and arrives on Blu-ray and DVD on July 10.