Paul Verhoeven’s Elle opens with a blank screen and the sickening sounds of sexual assault. The first image of the film is of a cat, casually witnessing the rape. Only after this introduction does Verhoeven confront the audience with the actual struggle: a man clad in dark clothing and a ski mask, dominating an older woman and having his way with her. Once he is gone, we’re introduced to Michèle Leblanc (Isabelle Huppert) wordlessly; she picks herself up, straightens her clothing, cleans up some broken glass, and then takes a bath. The blood floats up from between her legs to color the bubbles with a crimson wisp.