Elle

 (775)
2 h 11 min2016R
A successful businesswoman gets caught up in a game of cat and mouse as she tracks down the unknown man who raped her. Subtitled.
Directors
Paul Verhoeven
Starring
Isabelle HuppertAnne ConsignyCharles Berling
Genres
SuspenseDrama
Subtitles
English [CC]
Audio languages
English
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More details

Supporting actors
Virginie EfiraChristian BerkelLaurent LafitteJudith MagreJonas Bloquet
Producers
Michel MerktSaïd Ben Saïd
Studio
SONY PICTURES ENTERTAINMENT, INC.
Rating
R (Restricted)
Purchase rights
Stream instantly Details
Format
Prime Video (streaming online video)
Devices
Available to watch on supported devices

Reviews

4.1 out of 5 stars

775 global ratings

  1. 52% of reviews have 5 stars
  2. 24% of reviews have 4 stars
  3. 11% of reviews have 3 stars
  4. 5% of reviews have 2 stars
  5. 8% of reviews have 1 stars
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Top reviews from the United States

Allen Garfield's #1 fan.Reviewed in the United States on September 13, 2019
5.0 out of 5 stars
Terrific psycho-sexual thriller from Paul Verhoeven.
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Once upon a time, Paul Verhoeven was the hottest director in Hollywood, helming such box office hits as RoboCop and Basic Instinct. But a couple of disappointments (oddly, everyone I know loves Starship Troopers and Showgirls is regarded as a camp classic) is all it takes for studios to turn their back on you these days, so Verhoeven took his talent back overseas (he was born and raised in the Netherlands and didn't start directing American movies until the mid 80s - the underrated Flesh and Blood) where his style of sex, violence, and a good dose of humor seems to work best. This is the case with Elle, a movie that would be dead serious if it was made in Hollywood by anyone else. Thankfully, it's French and helmed by Verhoeven – making it one of the more uniquely entertaining movies you're likely to come across.

French actress and Academy Award nominee Isabelle Huppert ( indeed, one of the best and bravest actors currently working) stars as Michèle, who we see getting raped by a masked man (dressed all in black) in the movie's opening moments. While this horrible event would be the cause of two hours of angst for a character in an American movie, Michèle treats her rape rather clinically, although that doesn't mean she doesn't become focused on both finding ways to protect herself and well as hoping to unmask the perpetrator – who begins a game of taunting her after the events take place.

Michèle works for a videogame company whose specialty is creating violent and sexually exploitive games, so she immediately begins to suspect that one of her employees (maybe a current one, perhaps a former one) is the man who raped her. Others in Michèle's circle of friends and acquaintances are also suspicious. I will confess to pinpointing who the person was as soon as his character is introduced in the movie, although I don't know if it will be that obvious to everyone who watches the film. However, the identity of the person is just the first "surprise" in the movie, as Michèle's response is far from expected and may even turn some viewers (especially females, I suspect) off. I will say that knowing who it is (or having a pretty good idea) didn't take away any of my enjoyment, which is a good indication that the film holds up to multiple viewings and is much more than a "whodunnit."

The movie also has a great excuse why our lead character doesn't take her problems to the police; Michèle's father was responsible for some horrible crimes at which she was present (as a little girl). The crimes were horrendous enough that complete strangers will shout awful things at her, and one woman (early in the movie) actually throws a tray of food on her in a public restaurant. Michèle treats that moment so nonchalantly, that viewers will know it's happened to her many times before.

But for all the seriousness of the subject matter here, the real surprise of Elle (which, incidentally, isn't a nickname for the main character but rather the French word for "she") is what a wicked sense of humor is has. Not in the laugh-out-loud kind of way (although I certainly did so a few times), but in a dry, subversive way. There's a great subplot here involving Michèle's son (Jonas Bloquet) and the rather questionable girlfriend (Alice Isaaz) he's chosen for himself that goes places I don't think a Hollywood movie would dare (wait until you the scene where she gives birth!).

Unfortunately a lot of us avoid foreign movies because you have no desire to sit and read subtitles for two hours – I sometimes feel the same, but I encourage you to give this movie a chance. If you've loved Verhoeven's work here in the States, you'll get that same feeling with Elle. I don't know that it's the director's best movie, but it's definitely a contender.

Vital Disc Stats: (The Blu-ray.)

Elle arrives on Blu-ray in a standard Sony-type blue keepcase (the kind with the flap on the side you need to lift up to open the case) and contains no inserts. The 50GB Blu-ray is front-loaded with trailers for Equity, Julieta, Toni Erdmann, Maggie's Plan, and Our Little Sister. The main menu consists of a still image of actress Isabelle Huppert's character and the cat in the movie (the same image that graces the back of the keepcase's slick), with menu selections horizontally across the bottom of the screen.

The Blu-ray is region-free.
16 people found this helpful
Eric WarrenReviewed in the United States on January 12, 2021
4.0 out of 5 stars
Great actress, great material
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Sometimes the stars align for a film, as is the case with the legendary French actress, Isabelle Huppert taking the lead in Paul Verhoeven's in-your-face thriller, Elle. Both the story and the star are superbly matched, here.

It is almost cliche to say that Verhoeven is controversial. Hardly any of his English-language films, from Robocop to Basic Instinct did not generate strident conversations. Elle was not different -- is no different -- in its uncomfortable look at the role a strong-willed woman plays in a still male-dominated society.

A middle-aged CEO of a computer gaming company in Paris is attacked in her home. Not particularly unique, except that rather than reporting the rape to the police -- which, let's face it, probably wouldn't do any good -- she decides to take matters into her own hands and find the "perp" herself. She might have gotten more than she bargained for as the rapist begins taunting her, and without spoiling anything, when she finds out who it is it is not only surprising, but a bit anti-climactic.

Verhoeven and his lead actress use the unusual, but clearly-told story as a vehicle for interrogating issues of sexual predation, sexism in the corporate world and much else. Rather well, I think.
3 people found this helpful
Michael P. DempseyReviewed in the United States on June 7, 2017
5.0 out of 5 stars
Provocative psychological thriller
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Director Paul Verhoeven is famous for his provocative films, often combining sex, violence and psychological power play. Actress Isabelle Huppert is famous for her demanding roles, often playing powerful women with an obsession for sex and/or violence.

Put the two together and you can guess what you get. Elle's lead character, Michèle, is a woman who owns a video game company, specializing in games filled with extreme sex and violence. She casually shares her bed with her best friend's husband. She masturbates watching the neighbour unloading the trunk of his car. Her father is a convicted serial killer. Oh, and she doesn't seem to mind getting raped.

At least, that's the impression after the very first scene. After having been attacked and violently raped, she doesn't call the police of even a friend, but a fast food restaurant, ordering something to eat.

The film explores not only Michèle's relationship with her rapist, whose identity is established after about two thirds of the film, but also the men and women in her immediate circle. They all have their problems and peculiarities, and Michèle seems to pull all their strings as a hard, cold woman, superbly mastering her feelings and emotions.

For the viewer, it takes some effort to understand all the different relationships, and even more to grasp Michèle's behaviour. The only explanation Verhoeven offers, is her troubled youth as the daughter of a serial killer. In my opinion, the film suffers from an overload of characters with psychological difficulties. There's a mother hiring a gigolo because she can't accept getting older, there's a son clinging to a dominating girlfriend, a neighbour with a wife obsessed with religion, an employee playing a dirty trick on Michèle, and so on. Personally, I found it a bit too much.

The one thing that stands out in this film, is Isabelle Huppert's acting. Any other actress could easily have made Michèle's character unbelievable. But Huppert's utter detachment from any form of sensitivity makes the part completely convincing.
28 people found this helpful
phreejaxReviewed in the United States on February 23, 2018
4.0 out of 5 stars
Fascinating, seductive and sometimes shocking
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**** 4-Stars **** "Elle" is simply 'she' or 'her' in French - and sometimes 'it.' Paul Verhoeven, one of my favorite directors, teams up with Isabelle Huppert, one of my favorite actors, to make a film that is surprising, often shocking, and wholly fascinating. I will watch it again. Warning: this is one of the least 'politically correct' flicks you will ever see - multiple rapes (which our heroine suffers stoically, and perhaps with some curiosity), lots of bed-hopping, and a handful of other things likely to annoy some viewers. But the real question is, can you accept a 63-year-old woman as sexy, strong-willed and a bit of a femme-fatale? French audiences clearly had no problem (Huppert is universally adored, and besides, Catherine Deneuve, a decade older than Huppert, already busted this glass ceiling a few times) - but I'm not so sure Americans will be as comfortable with this. Go ahead, watch "Elle" - I dare ya. Vive la France!
11 people found this helpful
JYReviewed in the United States on July 11, 2020
5.0 out of 5 stars
A powerful story about moving on from your past, starring one of the best actresses
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This story calls for a strong-minded, level-headed female lead and Huppert is perfect for it. I've always loved her performance but it took me a long time to make up my mind to watch this one because of the subject matter. It did not disappoint. Like many French films and unlike most Hollywood films, it has a main plot line and many sub plot lines which are just as intriguing. In the first half hour, it unfolds so well about the relationships and dynamics among the characters involved without wasting scenes to explain, just enough to keep the suspense going but not too much to insult our intelligence. Obviously we are kept on our toes all the way to the end on the question of who did it, but for me it's also about the personal struggle of finally breaking free from one's painful past and starting to move on with living. She is so fearful of reporting the assault to the police because she does not stir up the public attention of the past--there she continues to let the past influence her actions and rule her life. Spoiler alert: at one point there is a conclusion to her past (the passing of her father), after which she starts making different decisions...At the end of the day, this is a happy-ending story.

Before watching it, I had vaguely remembered review words like "controversial" and thought maybe it had something to do with her attraction to the aggressor. After watching it I have to say her attraction to the aggressor (without knowing who it is at the time) precisely highlights the point for many rape victims in real life, that what constitutes a rape is without the consensus of the victim, regardless of how attractive the aggressor is.

On the other hand, I thought what could be a bit controversial might be how she refuses to forgive her father (and her mother for that matter) even when they are on their deathbeds. Most movies would have them reconcile somehow, but this plot is more honest. I don't personally have such a painful past with my family to be able to directly relate but I hope this detail is validating and comforting to those who can relate, and that it is okay not to forgive those who did wrong to you, as long as this feeling empowers and liberates you, like it did her.
2 people found this helpful
SamuelReviewed in the United States on May 10, 2018
5.0 out of 5 stars
I love Isabelle Huppert
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Not for everyone! I love Isabelle Huppert. This film is a real challenge for some people. I don't think it is being disrespectful to people who have been through a sexual assault. I think Verhoven wants us to see this film as a tale. It is about how this particular women responds to this sexual assault. As a mental health therapist, I can tell you that no trauma is the same. Therefore, not everyone's response is the same. I think this is a brave film that is great to spark conversations with people about. Some people may need to view it a few times to get over the initial shock of seeing it at first. Isabelle Huppert - as always - is perfection.
10 people found this helpful
Paul S. PersonReviewed in the United States on October 19, 2019
3.0 out of 5 stars
Enabling? I'll Take Their Word for It
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I freely admit that, being male, my concept of "female enablement" may not be what it should be.
If, to you, the phrase means "a film about a middle-aged woman striving to keep her partnership going while solving personal problems with her mother, father, partner, son, and daughter-in-law while dealing with being raped at the start of the film" then this film will meet your criteria, as she succeeds at everything, in one sense or another.
But the trailer identifies Verhoeven (correctly) as the director of /Basic Instinct/, thus making some implications, and, trust me on this, this is /no/ /Basic Instinct/. Not even close. It is well done, to be sure.
It is more like /Parenthood/ would have been, had that picture focused on the single parent and ignored the related families. But /Parenthood/ was and is /far/ more entertaining.
I also found one aspect somewhat interesting: the dialogue followed a pattern familiar to me from such films as /The Valet/ and /Moliere/. Since those films were farces, I had concluded that these patterns were used in farces, but this is no farce. So, apparently, the French talk this way all the time. Who'd a guessed?
One person found this helpful
Ronald McGillReviewed in the United States on November 3, 2019
5.0 out of 5 stars
Parts took my breath away.
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The setting is French urban chic. The central character plus friend are both bosses of their video-gaming company. Female leadership and therefore the drive to characterization is from that sex. The protagonist is dealing with various levels of complicated relationships: with her son, with her mother, with her ex-husband, with her lover, and with the desired focus on the particular game being developed. In that context, the unfolding story is how she responds to being raped; violent in itself. It's the unfolding twists - 'twisted even' reactions that take one's breath away. There is a deep psychological dimension. For some who might explore more, read 'Whose Been Sleeping in Your Head'.
2 people found this helpful
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