Like her career, Michèle has always micromanaged her life; she's constantly in control and has an demeanour about her that makes her almost indestructible. This is all changed when she is attacked in her home, a space people associate as a safe haven.
Michèle deals with the attack in her own way and tracks down the man who assaulted her and the foes are both drawn into a dangerous game which could lead to either of them being killed.
Elle is based on Philippe Djian's novel 'Oh', director Paul Verhoeven explains how he was given the original idea from producer Said Ben Said: "The idea wasn't mine; it came from the producer, Saïd Ben Saïd. He contacted me in the US, sent me Philippe Djian's novel, which I read and found very interesting. I knew we had the material for a movie, but I had to think it through and find my way of appropriating a story I would never have come up with myself."
There's a boldly comical tone to this outrageous thriller that can't help but unnerve audiences right the way through to a chilling climax. Directed by Paul Verhoeven (Basic Instinct), it's all rather bonkers, but it's also darkly grounded in a multi-layered performance from the great Isabelle Huppert. Shocking plot twists, nasty violence and sex, characters who refuse to behave like the usual stereotypes - the film is bracingly original and riotously unforgettable.
Huppert plays Michele, who owns a Paris videogame company with her best friend Anna (Anne Consigny). She's utterly unapologetic about how she approaches her life, including the fact that she has just been violently assaulted by a masked man who broke into her home. But there's a reason for her refusal to go to the police: when she was 10, her father went on a violent killing spree, putting her face all over the press as her father was sentenced to life in prison. Even so, her ex-husband Richard (Charles Berling) is horrified that she wouldn't report a rape to the cops. Her nervous neighbours Patrick and Rebecca (Laurent Lafitte and Virginie Efira) offer support. But Michele insists on handling everything on her own terms, including how she deals with her senile mother (Judith Magre) and her dim son (Jonas Bloquet) and his psycho pregnant girlfriend (Alice Isaaz).
As always, Huppert underplays the role beautifully, conveying more in a stony glance than most actors do with an emotional tirade. She gives Michele a fierce internal energy that leads to jaw-dropping actions. As her situation gets increasingly urgent, Alice refuses to panic. It's a tour-de-force performance that often takes the breath away because Michele's stubbornness is so blackly hilarious. The other characters swirl around her haplessly, and each actor adds his or her own details that bring them to life in unexpected ways.
Continue reading: Elle Review
The silver-haired matriarch of this subdued clan -- the antithesis of the tribe of lunatics in A Christmas Tale -- is Hélène (Edith Scob), a one-time art-world staple. Her three children are just about as different as three siblings can be: There's flighty Adrienne (Juliette Binoche), a designer of sorts living in New York; young and ambitious Jérémie (Jérémie Renier), who works for Puma Sneakers in Peking; and nostalgic Frédéric (Charles Berling), the eldest, an economist who doesn't believe in economics. Sentimentalist and stubborn nationalist that he is, Frédéric laughs his mother off when she tells him he will have to sell the house when she dies, insisting the house will stay in the family.
Continue reading: Summer Hours Review
That's where The Man of My Life starts out: with a big and boisterous extended family on one of those long vacations Europeans enjoy. The father/husband Frédéric (Bernard Campan) and his wife Frédérique (Léa Drucker) are in charge of the happy brood but find enough time to sneak off for sessions d'amour in the afternoon.
Continue reading: The Man Of My Life Review
In a boldly theatrical touch, Jean-Baptiste demanded that those gathering to pay their last respects must make a journey by train to his final resting place in Limoges, knowing full well that the damage he has done within their lives will come to a passionate, tumultuous head. As if to mock them, his body is being transported in a small white car driven on the road alongside the tracks.
Continue reading: Those Who Love Me Can Take The Train Review
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You better damn well like plates if you're going to suffer through the three hours of Les Destinées, an exhausting family drama about a porcelain empire and just as hard a flick as its subject matter.
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Alternating between French and English, the film hinges on the duplicitous dealings of Diane de Monx (Connie Nielsen), a merciless businesswoman who kicks things off by drugging a fellow employee in an effort to move up the corporate ladder. Now firmly ensconced as second in command at the Volf Group, Diane begins negotiations with animation giant TokyoAnimé, the world's largest and most successful producer of high quality sex cartoons. Diane is, in fact, a double agent working for rival firm Mangatronics, who - recognizing that a deal between Volf and TokyoAnimé would put them out of business - have hired her to sabotage the ongoing talks between the two companies. Unfortunately, despite a veneer of poker-faced iciness, someone is on to Diane's plans, and she suspects that either her antagonistic coworker Elise (Chloë Sevigny) or hunky negotiating partner Hervé (Charles Berling) is the villain attempting to blackmail her.
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Stardom tells the story of an unknown female hockey player named Tina (Jessica Paré) who finds celebrity in the modeling biz when a happenstance candid photo of her on the ice becomes all the rage. Soon enough she's an up-and-comer in Montreal, jetting off to Europe for photo shoots and parties, and indulging in the usual trappings of the supermodel race.
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Carole Bouquet is a cinematic treasure. A gold mine of authentic humanity and emotion, capable of playing a vast range of personalities, and more astonishingly -- yet accessibly -- beautiful at 42 than ever before, she is arguably the best film actress in France today.
So when she plays an adulteress in 1962 Normandy who has an affair with her husband's boss in "The Bridge," there is so very much more to the character than just her cheating heart.
Mina is a woman who is frustrated by the slow evaporation of magic in her marriage. She still loves George, her blue-collar lug of a husband (played by Bouquet's real-life mate Gerard Depardieu). But their relationship has gone from dizzy and passionate to comfortable and polite. In fact, she'd much prefer to lose herself in a record or a good book, or go to the movies -- where emotions are powerful and love is always ardent -- than spend a night with George.
Continue reading: The Bridge Review
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