Europe’s most flamboyantly confrontational director and its most fearless actress come together in this provocative drama, a career high for both. When divorced businesswoman Michèle (Huppert) is sexually assaulted by a masked man in her own home, she refuses to tell the police. Instead she takes matters into her own hands, and what seems at first to be a simple home-invasion whodunnit blossoms into a complex, powerful character study that sends genre clichés and conventions flying. Verhoeven and Huppert exercise their fierce intelligence, the director by committing totally to the film’s uncompromising premise, the star by pushing herself further than ever before. If Hitchcock were around today, he would be impressed and amused. In Elle his arch, perverse spirit most definitely lives on.