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Elle – Paul Verhoeven Returns To Form

Elle – Paul Verhoeven Returns to Form

Thursday night movies are back with “Elle” !…great. They are back with a Paul-Verhoeven-foreign-language film…great. It stars the peerless French actress Isabelle Huppert…really great!

There must be some film aficionados out there who know that he made great European films before Basic Instinct, Robocop, Total Recall, Starship Troopers, and Showgirls. His last Hollywood movie was 2000’s Hollow Man with Kevin Bacon. His American films in my limited view centered primarily on sci-fi/acion hero themes and they are not his best work. His Fourth American film Basic Instinct(1992) is probably closest in style and storyline to his Dutch films and in spite of its controversy and sensationalism it was the English language film that I enjoyed the most.
Verhoeven’s career began with the Oscar-nominated “Turkish Delight”(1973), “Soldier of Orange”(1977), and “Spetters”(1980). The first Verhoeven film that I saw was 1984’s The Fourth Man, a horror film essentially which was also his last Dutch film until the 2006 film Black Book. The Fourth Man was gritty, raunchy, perverse and…mesmerizing. I later went back and watched Soldier of Orange and Turkish Delight on video and was hooked on Verhoeven’s films.

For “Elle”, Verhoeven is directing a film in French with an all – French crew. The screenplay is an adaptation by an American David Birke of a novel by Phillippe Dijan. The film was selected in the Official Competition at Cannes where, it obtained very favourable reviews. France submitted “Elle” for the foreign film Oscar…Verhoeven and his editor are Dutch, the screenwriter is American but the producer, cast and crew are French. The last occasion that France submitted a movie for the Oscar with a non-French director was 1972 with Luis Bunuel’s Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie…

Isabelle Huppert has been an icon of French cinema for over 40 years…I first saw her in 1977’s The Lacemaker (Claude Goretta) in which her appearance was haunting and unforgettable. She has appeared in over 100 film and television productions. She has often appeared in the films of Claude Chabrol {Violette(1978), Story of Women(1988), Madame Bovary(1991), La Ceremonie(1995) and Merci Pour Le Chocolat(2000)}
and Michael Hanaeke {The Piano Teacher(2000), Time of the Wolf(2003), Amour(2012), and Happy End(2017)}.
“Early in her career Huppert started taking roles that are morally complex and sometimes hard to watch…and yet we can’t bring ourselves to look away.” (New York Times). Throughout the 1980″s she continued to explore enigmatic and emotionally distant characters in Maurice Pialat’s Loulou, Diane Kurys’ Coup de Foudre and Claude Chabrol’s Story of Women. She is also an acclaimed stage actress having appeared in theatre in Paris, London, New York , and Australia.

She has never been nominated for an Oscar;
She has received six Moliere Award nominations for her stage work.
She has been nominated 15 times for a Cesar Award(French equivalent of the Oscar) winning it in 1996 for La Ceremonie

She has twice won Best Actress at Cannes: in 1978 for Violette Noziere and in 2001 for The Piano Teacher.
She has also twice received the Best Actress Award at the Venice Film Festival; in 1988 for Story of Women and in 1995 for La Ceremonie. Both films were directed by Claude Chabrol.

As for the Oscars…it is about time.