(spoiler free)

‘Elle’ is a French & German film from director Paul Verhoeven. It’s a psychological thriller based on the novel Oh…’ by Philippe Djian. The film features the Oscar nominated performance from Isabelle Huppert and it has finally been released into UK cinemas! The film follows Huppert’s character, Michèle, who is attacked and the subsequent aftermath of this ordeal.

The film is incredibly effective as a thriller. The atmosphere of tension is established from the very beginning of the film and rarely lets up. It creates a sense of unease with viewers that enhances the experience audiences will have with the film. Interwoven with this chilling vibe is a wonderful mystery present in the narrative. There are a couple of elements to the story which aren’t immediately explained. These help to draw you in even more so than the thrilling drama, combining together to create something rather compelling.  Elle excels as a thriller and if it had wanted to it could have remained quite straightforward and still have been really great. Instead though the story becomes something even more complex, not just a ‘paint by numbers’ thriller. It is from this development in the narrative though that came a slight lull in my enjoyment. However, this change does offer much material for discussion and dissection.  Therefore this period of the film may become more appreciated with further understanding and time to ponder over it.

Isabelle Huppert earned herself an Oscar nomination for her performance here. We all know that Emma Stone took home the award for her role in the mighty ‘La La Land’. However, I would have favoured Natalie Portman to win. Furthermore, after watching ‘Elle’ I’m afraid Stone would be bumped down to at least third place if the nominees were to be ranked. Huppert is wonderful here playing a complex role. Her character, Michèle, is many things and Huppert is as convincing at one as she is the others. As a result she portrays a fascinating woman who makes for a strong focal point for the film. The rest of the cast are impressive also, always working alongside Huppert and offering a good chemistry to create interesting dynamics. There are lots of different relationships here and the insight we get into each of these is always intriguing, there is no weak link in this element of character writing.

‘Elle’ was definitely worth waiting for and has already surpassed the two films from the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar nominees that I’ve now caught up with (‘The Salesman’ & ‘Toni Erdmann’). This film didn’t earn one of those nominations but don’t let that discourage you from seeing it. Fans of the thriller genre won’t be disappointed. The performances, atmosphere, narrative and characters are all very engaging and the film dares to be something more developed then you might first think.

Rating – 8/10

Question: Who did you want to win the Leading Actress Oscar?
(Leave your answers in the comments section below!)

Thanks for reading this review and please let me know what you thought about the movie! Leave a comment below or drop me a tweet over at @HCMovieReviews.

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