Elle | Chicago Reader

Elle

Dutch writer-director Paul Verhoeven, making his first French-language film, returns to the themes of sexual perversion and errant womanhood he mined in Basic Instinct (1992) and Showgirls (1995). An affluent video games executive in Paris (Isabelle Huppert) is brutally raped in the first few minutes of the movie, and her reaction ranges from sad and predictable (she doesn't report the crime) to disturbing and unexpected (she's attracted to the perpetrator). Huppert is spellbinding as the icy, licentious victim; she seems to be daring the viewer to dislike her character, but the woman's mettle and barbed wit produce the opposite effect. Verhoeven masterfully stretches the suspense, and his gallows humor lands most of the time. His attempts at edginess slide into exploitation, though, as he entertains the notion that women might enjoy sexual assault and even deserve it. In French with subtitles.

Credits

Director:

  • Paul Verhoeven

Cast:

  • Isabelle Huppert
  • Laurent Lafitte
  • Anne Consigny
  • Charles Berling
  • Virginie Efira
  • Christian Berkel
  • Judith Magre
  • Jonas Bloquet
  • Alice Isaaz
  • Vimala Pons
  • Raphaël Lenglet
  • Arthur Mazet
  • Lucas Prisor
  • Hugo Conzelmann
  • Stéphane Bak

Producers:

  • Saïd Ben Saïd
  • Michel Merkt

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