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Stars: Isabelle Huppert, Laurent Lafitte, Anne Consigny, Charles Berling, Virginie Efira, Christian Berkel, Judith Magre, Jonas Bloquet, Alice Isaaz, Vimala Pons, Raphaël Lenglet, Arthur Mazet, Lucas Prisor, Hugo Conzelmann, Stéphane Bak

Director: Paul Verhoeven

Hell might be a somewhat more appropriate title for VerhoevenÂ’s masterly blend of rape-revenge thriller ingeniously infused with deeply black comedy that sees Huppert, rightly nominated for the Best Actress Oscar and (mistakenly perhaps?) losing to Emma Stone for La La Land

But “Elle” it is and Huppert is superb as the deliberately less than likeable title character, the middle-aged head of a prosperous video-game company whose world explodes into horror and emotional chaos when she is raped in her home.

Armed with David Birke‘s brutal but satisfactorily subtle screenplay (based on Philippe Djian’s novel Oh...) and well-cast players whose contributions were successfully designed to to showcase Huppert, Verhoeven never puts a frame wrong, returning in triumph not only with his best picture in quite a while but, more interestingly, breaking the same kid of intelligent, non-exploitative adult moviemaking procedures he broke so memorably with Basic Instinct back in 1992.

Alan Frank

France/Germany/Belgium 2017. UK Distributor: Picturehouse. Colour.
124 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: 18.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 3, Violence/Horror 3, Drugs 2, Swearing 3.

Review date: 20 Jul 2017

DVD review