500 Days Of Film Reviews Thriller, Elle, Starring Isabelle Huppert

After suffering a violent assault in her own home, Michèle LeBlanc (Isabelle Huppert), decides to change her locks and move on - her traumatic past preventing her from calling the police.


However, as the attack begins to haunt Michèle - impacting her relationships with her mother, ex-husband and son - she decides to take the initiative and track down her assailant. Soon both are drawn into a dangerous and twisted game, one that at any moment threatens to spiral out of control.

Is It Any Good?

Elle is a dark psychological thriller that caused some controversy on its release. The film was criticised for exploring the extremely sensitive issue of rape (and violence against women) within a darkly comic (and pretty twisted) narrative. 


The story’s subject matter is, indeed, troubling. Of most concern was that Paul Verhoeven’s film (based on the novel by Philippe Djian) would feel exploitative or, in some way, belittle the impact of sexual assault. 


However, Elle is no trashy rape revenge but a provocative, intelligent and challenging story - not about sex but about control. The violence is as shocking as, perhaps, it needs to be but it never feels exploitative - particularly as Michèle refuses to be defined by her assault. 



Superbly portrayed by Isabelle Huppert, Michèle is determined to take control of her shattered life. Traumatised by events in her past, she refuses to seek help and risk becoming a victim once again. Instead she changes her locks and learns about guns. Then she continues her life - leading meetings at the video game company she owns and attending (hilariously) arch dinner parties.


Michèle’s journey required a particularly brave and challenging (both physically and emotionally) performance from Huppert. Unsurprisingly, she more than delivers. Indeed, it is impossible to imagine anyone else in this role (she absolutely deserved the Oscar). Huppert’s portrayal of Michèle is truly astonishing and strangely hypnotic. She is flawed and funny, uncompromising and vulnerable. 


Elle is an unsettling, dark and intense thriller that is gripping and thought-provoking. While far from an easy watch, it rewards as much as it challenges and proves once again that Isabelle Huppert is one of the most talented and interesting actors working today. 


Random Observations

Have you seen Elle? 


If you have, what did you think of Paul Verhoeven’s film? Let me know in the comments section below or over on Twitter or Facebook!

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Jane Douglas-Jones
Jane Douglas-Jones

E: jane@500daysoffilm.com


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