Film: Elle

Onze score

You can say what you want about Paul Verhoeven’s films, but they are almost never boring and the subtext is always exciting. After an absence of ten years – Hollywood dropped him after he took Showgirls and Starship Troopers in a subversive direction – he reemerged last weekend in the competition of the Cannes Film Festival with the devilishly ambiguous French thriller Elle. Isabelle Huppert plays the boss of a gaming company, who in her private life can’t help but call all the shots and who uses whatever means to get what she wants. Nothing upsets her, not even a masked man who rapes her several times. Sometimes this film is like watching pure Claude Chabrol, sometimes it is like pulp with a kinky, psychosexual edge. The tension comes out of the complex, occasionally surprising plot, but also, and not in the least, from the sustained ambiguity. Our heroine indulges strange fantasies, has an obscure past, and doesn’t hesitate to use violence herself. The situation might go awry at any moment. Cinema is better off with tits-Paul around.

FR, 2016, dir.: Paul Verhoeven, act.: Isabelle Huppert, Laurent Lafitte, Anne Consigny, 130 min.

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