Premiering to a divided reception at Cannes, Paul Verhoeven’s Elle has provoked some comment, not least because it’s the first major film Verhoeven has released since the 2007 drama Black Book. We’ve been waiting to get a look at it for a while now and today, the new U.S. trailer for Elle premiered, showcasing the obviously provocative and potentially subversive subject matter.
Isabelle Huppert is Michèle, the ruthless head of a video game company facing some competition in the workplace. After a shocking assault by a masked man in her own home, Michèle sets out to track the man down, setting into motion a series of life-altering events – at least one of which involves a hatchet.
The trailer for Elle certainly makes the case for the film, quickly intercutting images of the assault and the potential culprits with Michèle at home and at work. Beginning on a dinner scene to Michèle’s blithe announcement that she’s been assaulted, the trailer adds black humor and thriller-esque scenes to the intriguing premise.
Not much is given away here (which is as it should be), and the trailer leaves the viewer with more questions than answers (also as it should be). And while the film may not have been entirely well-received at Cannes, it does look like a strong and typical Verhoeven feature, veering close to the sexual intensity of Basic Instinct and the dark comedy of Black Book.
Truth be told, I’m more intrigued by Huppert in the lead role than I am by the prospect of seeing another Verhoeven feature. She’s fascinating to watch and this role appears to bring her usual intensity to the screen once more. With Paul Verhoeven behind the camera and Isabelle Huppert in front of it, Elle is sure to be interesting, if nothing else.
Elle will screen at TIFF and NYFF, with a release from Sony Picture Classics on November 11.