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.
It was announced in a Variety Exclusive today that Paul Verhoeven’s new film Elle will be distributed by Said Ben Said’s production company BSB Productions. This is the same production company that had a hand in films by other visionary directors like Roman Polanski’ Carnage, Brian de Palma’s Passion and David Cronenberg’s A Map to the Stars, so there’s definitely a track record of quality films, here. I don’t normally delve into production news, so this piece is more of a reaction to Verhoeven’s comments on the film, which has me quite excited.