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Elle (9/10)

by Tony Medley

Runtime 130 minutes.

Not for children.

Isabelle Huppert gives a tour de force in this brilliant film by Paul Verhoeven from a screenplay by David Birke based on the novel “Oh…” by Philippe Djian. Verhoeven says that the movie was originally contemplated to be shot in America with an American cast. But because he thought it would be difficult to find an American actress to “take on such an amoral movie” and since Huppert was “keen” to do it, they shot it in France where the novel was set.

Good decision because Huppert lights up the screen better than any comparable American actress I can conjure in this role.

Elle is a tough, strong woman who runs her own video game company and she has a common sense approach to life and sex. When she’s assaulted she tries to find out who the masked man is, and we learn about her background that undoubtedly contributed markedly to her personality and morals.

Normally I would be fidgeting and praying for a 130 minute movie to end, but this never lagged for me. The acting is terrific and the script realistic, although Elle’s reaction to the assault is a little difficult to comprehend.

I loved the dialogue and the conversations. There is quite a lot of nudity and many violent scenes, but they were necessary and non-exploitive.

This is a thinking person’s thriller, a movie to be seen and discussed, not written about. In French.