"Elle" is one of the most deliciously wicked and nasty films of the year, featuring a terrifically convoluted scenario, great performances (including a tour-de-force turn by Isabelle Huppert, who received this year's Golden Globe for Best Actress), and lots of off-kilter sex. It's a psychological thriller that casts a jaundiced eye at marriage, family, business, and relations between the sexes. Michele (Huppert) is the strong-willed head of a leading French video game company, divorced from her husband, having an affair with her best friend's husband, emotionally estranged from her narcissistic mother, and financially responsible for her wimpy son. Her emotional baggage includes being the daughter of an infamous mass murderer, who is soon coming up for a parole hearing. After being attacked and raped in her home by an unknown assailant, Michele's life gets more complicated. Leery of contacting the authorities because of her previous bad experiences with the police, she resolutely tracks the man down on her own, leading to suspicious and at times violent confrontations with those around her. Director Paul Verhoeven has lost none of the directing hubris that was so on display in such films as "Turkish Delight," "Soldier of Orange," "RoboCop" and "Basic Instinct." Here he presents a host of characters (Elle in particular) who are so amoral, mean and selfish that you have difficulty liking any of them — but like them you do. And, perversely, you get sucked into their lives. A stunning film. Vitals: Director: Paul Verhoeven. Stars: Isabelle Huppert, Laurent Lafitte, Anne Consigny, Charles Berling, Virgine Aefira. 2016 — France, CC, MPAA rating: R, 130 min., Mystery/Thriller Box office gross: $1.107 million, Sony. Extras: "A Tale of Empowerment: Making Elle," "Celebrating an Icon: AFI’s Tribute to Isabelle Huppert."
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