Elle | Isabelle Huppert chills and confounds in Paul Verhoeven’s gripping rape-revenge thriller

Elle Isabelle Huppert

Electrifying… Utterly Gripping! 

Isabelle Huppert’s cool reserve is put to riveting use in Elle, an uncomfortably fascinating, morally ambiguous psychological thriller from Basic Instinct director Paul Verhoeven.

A masked assailant rapes Huppert’s Parisian businesswoman Michèle in her home in the film’s deeply upsetting opening scene. Yet almost as shocking as the attack is the fact that in its aftermath Michèle’s sangfroid remains intact. Instead of reporting the assault to the police, she calmly sweeps up broken glass, bins her dress and orders sushi. She then sets about identifying her attacker, a pursuit that proves uneasily compelling.

As events unfold, however, the biggest mystery isn’t the attacker’s identity, but Michèle’s enigmatic personality. The head of a successful video game company, she is accustomed to being in control, in charge in all her interactions with other people, whether her employees or her ex-husband, her lonely mother or her wastrel of a son. When we learn of traumatic events from her childhood she becomes even more of a riddle. With her air of quizzical ironic amusement, Huppert makes trying to puzzle her out utterly captivating.

Certificate 18. Runtime 131 mins. Director Paul Verhoeven

Elle is available on Blu-ray & DVD from Monday 10 July from Lionsgate Home Entertainment.