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Year: 2016 
Running Time:
Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1 (Scope) 
Certificate: BBFC 18 Cert – Not suitable for under 18s 
Subtitles: It is expected that this film is fully subtitled. 
Directed by Paul Verhoeven 
Starring: Isabelle Huppert, Laurent Lafitte, Anne Consigny  
An image from Elle

After a ten-year long hiatus, Paul Verhoeven makes his directorial return with the fierce, controversially explicit and shamelessly twisted film Elle.

Michèle Leblanc (Isabelle Huppert) owns a video game developing company, but her employees barely respect her due to her lack of experience in the field. Her son, Vincent (Jonas Bloquet) is more attached to her friend Anna (Anna Consigny) than to her and therefore never listens to what she has to say. Michèle’s mother is addicted to cosmetic surgery and is sexually involved with a man much younger than she is. As if that were not enough, Michéle cannot cope with the idea of seeing her father again because of his past actions that have haunted her for all her life. What connects all these aspects of Michèle’s life, from her job to her dysfunctional interpersonal relationships, is her categorical lack of control over them.

One day, however, something happens, and this is where the film decides to start: Michèle is sexually assaulted in her own house by a man with a black ski mask. Instead of reporting it, she disposes of all the evidence and goes on with her daily business. At the same time, she decides to exploit the accident to finally gain control over something – or, rather, someone – through a series of spiraling violent and sexual fantasies she develops because of her rape.

With an elegantly uninhibited performance by Isabelle Huppert, Elle is a frank, disturbing and unorthodox story of empowerment and female resilience.

Marta Meazza

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Screenings of this film:

2016/2017 Summer Term (digital)