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Elle (2016)

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A successful businesswoman gets caught up in a game of cat and mouse as she tracks down the unknown man who raped her.

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(screenplay), (novel) | 1 more credit »
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151 ( 44)
Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 55 wins & 69 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
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Patrick (as Laurent Lafitte de la Comédie Française)
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Anna
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Richard Leblanc
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Rebecca
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Irène Leblanc
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Robert
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Vincent
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Josie
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Hélène
Raphaël Lenglet ...
Ralf
Arthur Mazet ...
Kevin
...
Kurt
Hugo Conzelmann ...
Philipp Kwan
Stéphane Bak ...
Omar
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Storyline

Michèle seems indestructible. Head of a successful video game company, she brings the same ruthless attitude to her love life as to business. Being attacked in her home by an unknown assailant changes Michèle's life forever. When she resolutely tracks the man down, they are both drawn into a curious and thrilling game-a game that may, at any moment, spiral out of control. Written by SBS Productions

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Genres:

Crime | Drama | Thriller

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for violence involving sexual assault, disturbing sexual content, some grisly images, brief graphic nudity, and language | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

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Language:

Release Date:

11 November 2016 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Oh!  »

Filming Locations:

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Box Office

Budget:

€9,000,000 (estimated)
 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

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Color:

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The initial plan was to produce the movie in the United States, but there were problems finding a female lead. Nicole Kidman, Sharon Stone, Julianne Moore and Diane Lane were offered the role, but they all passed on the opportunity. Marion Cotillard and Carice van Houten were also considered. According to Paul Verhoeven, most actresses immediately rejected the part as soon as they had read the script, instead of waiting for a few days, which is normal. One of the actresses said she felt uncomfortable because of things that had happened to her in the past, one didn't give any reasons but just said, 'certainly not'. Verhoeven relocated the shoot of Elle to France after being turned down by Hollywood actresses. Verhoeven revealed that Isabelle Huppert read the book, called up the writer and the producer and said she wanted to do the movie. When they were discussing it, she brought up Verhoeven's name. Huppert chose Verhoeven, not the other way around. Verhoeven told The Guardian that the only American actor who would have been game, he thinks, is Jennifer Jason Leigh, "she would have had absolutely no problem, She's extremely audacious. But she's an artistic presence and we were looking for names", he said. See more »

Goofs

Repeatedly, Patrick bangs Michèle's head against a concrete wall and hits her in the face with powerful punches. Yet Michèle never loses consciousness, doesn't sustain any bone fractures and even gets away without a swollen eyelid. See more »

Quotes

Vincent: [to his mother] Cunt
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Connections

References The Last of Us (2013) See more »

Soundtracks

Symphony No. 6 'Pastorale' - 1st Movement
Composed by Ludwig van Beethoven
Performed by Berliner Philharmoniker
Conducted by Simon Rattle
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User Reviews

 
Unconventional story, powerful performance
17 November 2016 | by (Dallas, Texas) – See all my reviews

Greetings again from the darkness. It's best not to pre-judge what to expect in a new Paul Verhoeven directed film. We haven't seen or heard much from him in the past decade (the underrated Black Book, 2006), but we know surprises and twists and entertainment will be part of his work given his track record of Robocop, Total Recall, Basic Instinct, and Showgirls. Factor in that he is now working with one of the best actresses on the planet in Isabelle Huppert, and we walk into the theatre with no assumptions but a high level of anticipation.

The phrase 'tour de force' is no exaggeration for Ms. Huppert's performance here. No time is provided for settling into one's seat as the opening scene stuns us with a brutal sexual attack by a masked intruder. Afterwards, the bloodied victim calmly cleans the house, soaks in a tub and orders takeout. This is our introduction to Michele (Huppert) and begins our two hour mission of trying to figure her out.

Is she the ultimate feminist? She is the co-owner (with her best friend Anna) of a video game company that specializes in highly stylized and violent fantasy games (no subtle irony in that). Is she demented? She fools around with the husbands of her best friend and neighbor. Is she simply off-center? She scolds her mother for wanting to marry a much younger man, and her son for living with his selfish girlfriend who has a new baby via another man. She is not a good friend, business partner, mother, daughter, wife or person. This is no sympathetic character, yet thanks to Ms. Huppert, we simply can't take our eyes off of her or stop wondering how she will handle the next situation (of which there are many).

Based on the novel "Oh …" by Phillipe Dijan, with a screenplay from David Birke (who has a similar theme in much of his work), the film spares us little from the daily life of Michele. We see her as a confident business person, a sexual being – whether peering through binoculars at a neighbor or trysting with a married man - and a somewhat devious and devilish person intent on revenge. It's not until later in the film that we learn the family history that has been the driving force behind her rebuilding her life while also being unable to escape the past.

Ms. Huppert is in most if not every scene. It's a powerful and rare performance that is complemented by some fine supporting actors: Anne Consigny as Anna (Michele's friend and business partner), Christian Berkel as Robert (Anna's husband and Michele's play toy), Charles Berling as Richard (Michele's ex-husband), Judith Magre as Michele's mom, Laurent Lafitte as Patrick (the neighbor), and Jonas Bloquet as Vincent (the dim bulb son). Michele has interactions with each of these characters … none better than the Christmas dinner party where all are in attendance.

Verhoeven's film can be viewed as a slightly sleazy guilty pleasure, or as a profile of a strong, independent woman with a flawed moral compass. It's a reminder that we never fully escape the shadow cast by our parents, and some pay a greater price than others. It's rumored that no major American actress would take on the role, which in the end, benefits the film greatly … no other actress could have provided what was needed (except perhaps Barbara Stanwyck, who died more than 25 years ago). Ms. Huppert's performance allows this to cross many genres, and it is undoubtedly the best of the year in this category: a comically mean rape-revenge psychological thriller centered on consent and desire. Should you doubt this, perhaps Michele's own words will convince: "Shame isn't a strong enough emotion to stop us from doing anything at all." It's a pleasure to meet you ma'am.


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