After a successful run in the eighties where he was behind films like “RoboCop”, Basic Instinct” and Total Recall”, Paul Verhoeven made some bad film choices. After a few flops he seemed to disappear and hadn’t directed a major film since 2006’s “Black Book”. The good news for Verhoeven fans is that he is back, and from all indications as good as ever. This time he has made a French film, and a wonderful film if I must say.
Michele LeBlanc (Isabelle Huppert) is a successful woman who runs a video game company. One night while at home an intruder wearing a ski mask rapes her. Having issues with the police in the past, she makes no report of it, but instead going on like nothing happened. The problem with the police arises from her past where her father was convicted of killing over twenty people, leaving Michele with a distrust of almost everything. Michele’s life seems normal, she has an ex-husband Richard (Charles Verling), whom she gets along well with, and a son who might be slightly messed up, but whom she still supports. Michele might have want to put the attack behind her, but her attacker sends her text messages taunting her, as well as breaking in her house to leave messages. Michele more then willing seems to be in for this game of cat and mouse with her attacker, as she tries and figures whom her attacker is.
Verhoeven has proven he knows how to make a good thriller, and that is exactly what “Elle” is. Based on a novel by Philippe Djian, screenwriter David Birke adapts a great engrossing thriller. Verhoeven for his part looks refreshed as he helps create a world for all of this to unfold in. After going for American stars originally, all which turned it down because of the opening scene, it all works out because of the brilliance that is Issbelle Huppert. She is just amazing as a woman who just controls every scene she is in with her presence. They way the writers have made Huppert’s character show all the signs of being a psychopath, as she uses it, despite her character’s history, is all made by her performance. “Elle” is a beautiful and thrilling film, and while it feels like everyone in it is the most forgiving human on earth, there is so much underneath the surface than what appears. This is a top-notch pulse-pounder no matter where it is from and come award time, you should see its name appear. I for one am glad Verhoeven is back, and back as good as ever all for your viewing pleasure.