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 death of Isabelle Reed thrusts her family consisting of her husband Conrad Reed (Devin Druid) and two sons Jonah Reed (Jesse Eisenberg) and Gene Reed (Gabriel Byrne) in to a process of bereavement in which they have to each manage their different stages of grief. Isabelle an ex war photographer dies as a result of a car crash near their house which plummets her family into a vow of silence in which they each suppress their real feelings towards her death.
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Not only could the stellar cast be found beaming on the red carpet at the New York premiere of upcoming comedy 'St. Vincent', but supporting guests from 'Desperate Housewives' star James Denton to 'Inherent Vice' actress Jena Malone were also snapped arriving at the event.
Conor (James McAvoy) and Eleanor (Jessica Chastain) play a couple who fall in love and get married, before hitting various hiccups in their relationship. However, this film is far from the clichéd love story, and instead tells the tale from both points of view, as well as relatable and engaging look at the relationship of two people still trying to figure out who the other person truly is. The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby charts the highs and lows in a relationship between two people trying to recreate the past, so as not to let their love fade away.
Here's yet another preposterous action movie that's made watchable by a skilful director and an engaging cast. While there are some intriguing themes in this spiralling odyssey of revenge, the script never really makes any sense out of the plot, merrily twisting and turning as it whizzes past a series of glaring improbabilities. But Colin Farrell and Noomi Rapace put their huge brown eyes to work, holding our sympathies as things get messier by the moment.
Farrell plays Victor, a gun-toting goon working for the slick mobster Alphonse (Howard), who is being taunted by a complex, unnerving plot to bring him down. But Victor is sidetracked by his neighbour Beatrice (Rapace), who comes on strong before revealing that she has seen his handiwork and will report him to the cops if he doesn't help her get revenge against the guy who scarred her face in a drunk-driving accident. This puts Victor in a difficult position since he's already engaged in his own plan to avenge the brutal deaths of his wife and daughter, assisted by a family friend (Abraham) from the old country.
And the plot gets increasingly knotty, as both Victor and Beatrice start to wonder if perhaps falling in love with each other might be a more pleasant way to get over their anger issues. Yes, the film is essentially preaching love and redemption even as the body count nears triple digits. Fortunately, director Oplev brings the same slick-steely style to the film as his original The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. And the always watchable Farrell and Rapace get solid support from Howard and Abraham, as well as Cooper (as Victor's brother in arms), Huppert (as Beatrice's busy-body mum) and the underused Assante (as the big boss).
Continue reading: Dead Man Down Review
Anne and Georges are a devoted, elderly couple who both used to be music teachers. One day, Anne has a stroke which leaves her partially paralysed and unable to look after herself. Georges, being old and not up to strength himself, does his best to take care of her but is placed under considerable strain given the amount of attention she needs and the fact that she isn't always compliant with him. However, he maintains his promise to her that he will not send her to a nursing home to be cared for. Their daughter Eva lives abroad and also has a career in music but tries to convince her father to let someone else care for her despite his promise. Just how far will this couple's love take them, and will their partnership survive?
Since its release in November 2012, this powerfully moving French drama has garnered much praise with five Oscar nominations and four BAFTA nominations. Director and writer Michael Haneke ('The White Ribbon', 'The Piano Teacher') also won the Palme d'Or award on its release at the Cannes Film Festival but, most recently, the movie bagged the Best Foreign Language Film award at the Golden Globes in January 2013.
Director: Michael Haneke
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A striking look at a long-term relationship, this film is an antidote to those who are tired of shamelessly sweet depictions of retirees, such as The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel or Hope Springs. Meanwhile, it's perhaps the most emotionally resonant film yet from Austrian filmmaker Michael Haneke, who specialises in crisp explorations of the darker side of humanity (see The White Ribbon or Cache). By contrast, this Cannes-winner is a clear-eyed drama about ageing that completely avoids manipulation and schmaltz, but is still deeply moving.
The story takes place largely in one apartment in Paris, where Georges and Anne (Trintignant and Riva) are enjoying their golden years. Then one night, after attending a concert by one of Anne's former piano students, she has a small seizure that's just the first step in a slide into partial paralysis. Georges is happy to care for her, and they still have moments of happiness. Even when their daughter (Huppert) barges in and tries to meddle with their decisions about the future. As Anne's condition deteriorates, Georges gets help from his neighbours (Agirre and Blanco) and a nurse (Franck). But he never feels that taking care of Anne is a burden.
Unsurprisingly, Haneke tells this story without even a hint of sentimentality. Even though the premise lends itself to big emotions, he keeps everything quietly authentic. The flat itself almost becomes a character in the story, with each outsider's arrival as a kind of invasion. Scenes are captured in his usual long, unbroken takes with no background music to tell us how to feel. Instead, we experience the situations along with Georges, and we understand why he takes such a practical approach, refusing to overdramatise even the most emotive events.
Continue reading: Amour Review
The one philosophy behind the existential screwball comedy "I ? Huckabees" (pronounce the ? as "heart") is that there is no one philosophy. A satire of spiritual gurus, self-help and other psychological gimmickry, it makes its point by being so esoteric and cerebrally akimbo that it will likely divide audiences between those who find its deliberately abstruse discombobulation amusing and to the point, and those who find it just abstruse and discombobulated.
Written and directed by David O. Russell, the observant and darkly comical wit behind the Gulf War derision "Three Kings," the ensemble storyline whirlpools around Albert Markovski (Jason Schwartzman), an unhinged and obsessive young environmentalist who has seen the open-space preservation group he chartered slip through his fingers and into the hands of a snake-oil-charming corporate stooge named Brad Stand (Jude Law). Brad is, in fact, an executive at Huckabees -- a slick, corporate retailer with a habit of moving into small towns and building megastores where there had once been open space.
With his failure causing him to question his whole life, Albert seeks metaphysical peace of mind from Bernard and Vivian Jaffe (Dustin Hoffman and Lily Tomlin), a pair of unconventional, off-kilter and out-of-sync private eyes who specialize in solving the mysteries of their clients' inner turmoil. Soon they are, quite conspicuously, following Albert to work, peering through his windows, digging through his trash, and pairing him up with another lost soul as a partner in intellectual recovery -- Tommy (Mark Wahlberg), a blue-collar lug of a firefighter whose eye-opening visit inside his own head has rapidly become a slide into bemused Nihilism.
Continue reading: I ? Huckabees Review
Like her career, Michèle has always micromanaged her life; she's constantly in control and has...
There's a boldly comical tone to this outrageous thriller that can't help but unnerve audiences...
The death of Isabelle Reed thrusts her family consisting of her husband Conrad Reed (Devin...
Conor (James McAvoy) and Eleanor (Jessica Chastain) play a couple who fall in love and...
Here's yet another preposterous action movie that's made watchable by a skilful director and an...
A striking look at a long-term relationship, this film is an antidote to those who...
Claire Denis resolutely refuses to make simple movies, so this intense drama set during a...
Insinuating and enigmatic filmmaking adds to the central mystery of this intensely personal odyssey, which...