Genre subversive Paul Verhoeven, director of Basic Instinct and Black Book, teams up with the great Isabelle Huppert to craft this provocative, blackly comic thriller.
Paul Verhoeven’s Elle saw Cannes Competition 69 out on a high note. This beautifully judged drama/thriller is all about a provocatively powerful woman, much like Verhoeven’s last Competition entry – Basic Instinct, which played back in 1992. Elle is that picture’s equal, and, in a similar way, captures a new moment for film’s femme fatale.
Elle, starring the unrivalled Isabelle Huppert, threads sexual intrigue with knife-edged danger, punctuated by the occasional relief of unexpected, uneasy humour. It’s a film which could only have come from the hands of the Dutch master, back after a 10-year-absence since Black Book – and how we have missed him.
Huppert has rarely been better as the head of a videogame company who is attacked and raped in her home by a masked intruder. This plays out, however, at the onset and is just a launchpad for Verhoeven to examine his career-long themes of power and domination afresh.
~~ Fionnuala Halligan, Screendaily