Elle - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Elle Reviews

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½ June 18, 2017
The cat was the only saving grace in this movie.
½ June 16, 2017
"Elle is an absolute mind-twister of a thriller from director Paul Verhoeven and Isabelle Huppert's performance is brazenly flawless in every way imaginable"
DVD Movie Review: Elle
Date Viewed: March 22 2017
Directed By Paul Verhoeven (Basic Instinct, RoboCop, Total Recall, Starship Troopers, Showgirls and Hollow Man)
Screenplay By David Birke, Based on the novel by Philippe Dijan
Starring: Isabelle Huppert, Laurent Lafitte, Anne Consigny, Charles Berling, Virginie Efira, Judith Magre, Christian Berkel, Jonas Bloquet, Vimala Pons, Alice Issaz, Arthur Mazet, Raphael Lenglet and Lucas Prisor.

The film begins with a middle-aged woman being raped in her home by a masked intruder. Instead of calling the police, the woman just cleans up her mess and moves on like it never even happened. Paul Verhoeven's French-language film "Elle" tells the story of a conflicted woman who's the victim of rape but she doesn't want to be portrayed as one. Popular French actress Isabelle Huppert (who earned a Best Actress Oscar nomination for her savagely terrific work here) has played complex roles with great range in the past but this is her most stunning role yet.

She deserves high praise for taking on a brave and risky character like this and she goes into directions where you won't expect. For those of you who don't know him, director Paul Verhoeven was in the Hollywood spotlight for twenty years making violent and risqué mainstream releases such as "RoboCop", "Total Recall", "Basic Instinct", "Hollow Man", "Starship Troopers" and of course, the infamous 1995 camp classic "Showgirls" for which he excepted a Worst Director Razzie award.

After making "Hollow Man", Verhoeven left the Hollywood industry and decided to get involved in the kind of films he wanted to make. With "Elle", Verhoeven has scored a major comeback lap and it would be interesting to see what film he makes next. Isabelle Huppert plays Michèle Leblanc, the boss of a successful video game company where her male employees can't stand her. She also feels estranged from her adult son, Vincent (Jonas Bloquet) who's currently in a relationship with Josie (Alice Issaz) his domineering and likely unfaithful pregnant girlfriend.

Michèle also has a contentious relationship with her bitter mother, Irène (Judith Magre) due to her strange and "Ehhhhh.... OKAY!" relationships with younger men and narcissistic behavior towards her. Michèle's father was an infamous mass murderer who at times brought her along when she was 10-years-old during his crime sprees. Meanwhile, Michèle is hanging on to two current affairs, she develops a flirtation with her neighbor, Patrick (Laurent Lafitte) while at the same time clinging on to an affair with Robert (Christian Berkel) who just happens to be the husband of Michèle's best friend and business partner, Anna (Anne Consigny). After being raped by a masked assailant in her home, Michèle tells her friends and ex-husband about it and they are shocked and surprised that she didn't call the police. Michèle didn't phone 911 or report the incident to the police because she is wary of law enforcement.

Being attacked and raped in her home changes Michèle's life forever as she plans to take on the assailant herself. When she does find out who he is, she doesn't call the police. She instead develops a puzzling and curious game with him. What exactly is her motivation here? Is it revenge or is it psychological sexual needs? You need to see the movie and find out for yourself.

"Elle" is an absolute mind-twister of a thriller from director Paul Verhoeven. His direction is swift and he makes the material as lurid and uncomfortable as possible. The screenplay by David Birke which he adapted from Philippe Dijan's novel "Oh..." is as dark as it is disturbing but that's what makes "Elle" so brilliant and mesmerizing.

Isabelle Huppert's performance is brazenly flawless in every way imaginable, so much so I thought she should've won Best Actress over Emma Stone. Go ahead, blast me all you want but Huppert had a more tougher role to play, her character had more range and a lot of big-time actresses would've stayed away from that role. It maybe too raw and graphic for most viewers but "Elle" solidifies Isabelle Huppert as one of the greatest European actresses working today and it's certainly one of the most brutal and glorifying movies from last year.
June 14, 2017
Isabelle Huppert has stated that she wanted to play this role because the character of Michèle Leblanc is so complex, indicating that she saw her as someone who resolutely refused to be a victim or to be treated as a victim. This makes the film, during which Huppert's character is raped during a break in, seem as though it might be an in-depth study of an empowered woman who rejects the patriarchy and its attempts to control her. She is, after all, a successful businesswoman (running a videogame company with another female friend and an all male staff of workers) who seems to toy with a herd of past and present lovers. But really I think director Paul Verhoeven (Basic Instinct, Starship Troopers) is up to his old tricks, offering some outrageously misogynistic (or at least sensationalistic) content under the guise of an exploration of gender politics. We are forced to see the rape in flashback numerous times and there are several other psychological or physical assaults on Huppert throughout the film. Verhoeven slyly offers viewers the temptation to say that Huppert's character deserves some of her negative treatment, since she often plays cruel games with those around her and treats her family in a blunt unfeeling way. (Alternately, we should of course declare that even mean women do not deserve this). However, true to the source novel (I think), there are also psychological reasons for Huppert's personality and demeanour (which she carries off with the aplomb of the truly amazing actress she is) - her father is guilty of a series of horrific crimes that she witnessed as a child and her life has been subject to the fallout (and hostile reactions from others). So, to state that the character is complex is to put things quite mildly. Verhoeven gives Huppert the freedom to fully delineate Leblanc and to do so with verve and, yes, a comic touch. It is the wryly funny moments that really unsettled me - we are encouraged to laugh, even as the content of the film itself is truly dark and horrible (albeit also interwoven with the mundane). In mixing this strange brew, Verhoeven seems to have sought to provoke a range of reactions, both savoury and unsavoury, and on the DVD extra he declares that this is reality (referring to a film that is mostly all social interactions - but he resists offering any interpretation). In the end, it is up to us to control the narrative of our lives and the interpretation of the events around us. It is telling that Huppert saw the story as empowering (justifying her decision to play the part). However, that reading may simplify things, as would the alternate reading that this is a chance to play out violent fantasies (either as dominator or submissive). Instead, the film is a success because of its ambiguities (and Huppert's acting), challenging us to resolve the unresolvable. But should we take the bait?
June 5, 2017
A single actress who truly takes over the scene because of her enormous talent and personality!! Isabelle Huppert is fantastic. A strong oscar nominee
May 30, 2017
A strange film that is both exhilarating and frustrating at the same time. Exhilarating for it has an excellent performance from Isabelle Huppert (which is on par with her haunting and sadistic role in "The Piano Teacher") and a perfect setting for an urban thriller à-la-Michael Haneke's "Hidden". Frustrating for it seems to have some tonal issue as the plot shifted from a PTSD-focused "rape film" (horrible name for a genre film but has been actually used by major outlets), to a religious tale of the "Crime and Punishment" type full of Catholic implications, and of course to Verhoeven's trademark - a raw thriller full of sexual innuendos and psychological repressions. Such tonal shift made the film difficult to interpret, especially with a confusing ending that may require a second watch for full appreciation, as many details throughout the films were not fully developed (Michele's background, her employees' strange behaviors, the fate of the other participants of "the Last Supper" - this film has so many interesting characters and details). Nevertheless, this is definitely one of the best urban thrillers in recent years. The lighthearted but accurate touch on the gaming industry is also interesting ("Styx" is an actual game that was indeed developed for PS4 by a French firm, posters of games and comics on the wall are also of real and popular products), as this setting has been hardly explored by the film industry.
May 27, 2017
Very raw and unsettling. Isabelle Huppert is superb! Magnifique!
May 26, 2017
The wrong actress won Best Actress last March. Particularly liked that she was far from perfect. Huppert can do no wrong.
May 26, 2017
Contrived, pseudo-intellectual suspense film. Some excellent performances, editing and cinematography, but essentially empty. Clever and tricksy without any genuine insight.
½ May 22, 2017
Anchored by the performance of Isabelle Huppert (who appears to have a predilection for movies with slightly perverted sexual content), Elle makes for strangely compelling viewing. For one, I wasn't entirely sure if she wanted to avenge the guy who raped her or if she in part, secretly enjoyed the experience. The motivations of her character were never entirely defined. Also, later in the film she allows the same man who raped her to drive her home from a party and bandage her leg? It is this very emotional complexity that had me baffled right through to the end. Still, an interesting thriller.
May 19, 2017
One of the best of last year with the best female performance of last year. Audacious and surprising. What seemingly would be another sexy thriller ala Fatal Attraction or Basic Instinct turns out so not just that. This movie is all about the grey area. Elle is not a very nice person yet you find yourself rputing for her all while thinking "What a Bitch"!
May 18, 2017
Too much violent sex.
May 16, 2017
1st 15 mins or so you think wow this is going to be a confronting movie and from then on it just turns into laughable dribble, the end scene in the cemetery just highlights that the Director through everything at it to make this very painful/boring movie more absurd and cringe worthy.
May 14, 2017
'Elle' successfully frames a portrait of one woman's struggle with the men in her life and her reclamation of her body under the backdrop of a rape mystery and her video game company. Michèle serves as a powerful and calculated protagonist, making certain decisions that seem enigmatic to the viewer until the end. Director Paul Verhoeven evidences that, decades after the new-wave, French cinema still dominates the field in terms of sexual identity and use of perspective.
May 6, 2017
Seemingly hair-raising story, that yes, you can get in the first five minutes - then have to labor through constant implausible constant life crises, and then there's the violence. Acting was good, score well done, but as the main character says, it's twisted. A complete waste of time spent on disturbing nonsense.
April 30, 2017
Unenjoyable. Unpleasant characters and storyline. Two stars for good performances, otherwise 1 star.
April 25, 2017
Trippy and involving. Not sure even the French are this weird, though (do the citizens of that country treat rape as just another event sandwiched between their constant love affairs?). Still, it wasn't bad, and Isabelle Huppert is very attractive for a 64-year-old!
April 25, 2017
Thought-provoking but largely unsuccessful tale of sexual assault, recovery and revenge. Not Verhoeven?s most exploitative work, but may well be his post contentious from the perspective of sexual politics. Isabelle Huppert?s performance may well be her most accomplished in a career that isn?t short of highlights, but that?s largely because she has such a job in front of her creating some semblance of a believable character out of the script.
½ April 24, 2017
Not very captivating. Once she realizes who it is she toys with him...
½ April 24, 2017
This movie was Terrible. Ridiculous situations and pathetic attempt to be suspenseful. I couldn't wait for it to be over. We guessed who the attacker was in the first 15 minutes. From there it was just watching the heroine's bizarre and uninteresting behavior.
April 20, 2017
Terrible movie...terrible writing
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