Paul Verhoeven has been off the radar since around 2007, when his brash, brilliant World War II thriller Black Book hit theaters. Since then, and even before the release of that film, Verhoeven has garnered a reputation as one of modern filmmaking’s foremost subversives, a howling cynic who never let his taste for provocation ruin the basic thrill and fun of his films. The Dutch director’s experimental follow-up to Black Book, Tricked, is just now seeing theatrical release in New York, scheduled for a limited run at Cinema Village in late February.
That might be a pain to see unless you live in the five boroughs, but there’s a much better chance of fans getting their eyes on Verhoeven’s new film, Elle. The French-language film stars the iconic Isabelle Huppert as the titular survivor of a home invasion who reacts to her attack with a more open view of sexuality and violence, causing her to act out in completely unexpected ways. It’s Verhoeven’s first film in French, and you can check out the exciting trailer for it right below:
Verhoeven’s career has seen him directing a wide variety of material, leading him from the intergalactic battles of Starship Troopers and Total Recall to the inventive futuristic action of RoboCop to the medieval journey of Flesh + Blood. His favored genre, however, is the erotic thriller, which made up part of Black Book but was more apparent in his ingenious Basic Instinct and wild melodrama Showgirls, as well as The 4th Man, his breakout film that led him to garner notice from Hollywood. Elle falls more into that realm but there’s something a bit less trashy about this film than Verhoeven’s past projects, following a track of visual elegance and refinement that could be gleaned in Black Book and the inexplicable Tricked. Regardless, with all the weaponry, sexual innuendo, and violence that one can see in the trailer, it’s hard to imagine that Elle will be lacking the tinge of wickedness and inventive aesthetic that’s made Verhoeven’s film so singular in their respective genres.