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Isabelle Huppert surveils the street outside her home in Elle.

It seems insane that Isabelle Huppert has no Oscar nominations in her storied career, but she just might snag one for her performance in Elle, which plays at the Modern this weekend. This French thriller begins with her character being raped in her own home by a masked assailant. In the aftermath of that, she secretly investigates her male friends, neighbors, and employees at the Paris-based video-game development firm that she owns with her best friend (Anne Consigny).

Her quest to find out her rapist’s identity is the thread that holds this film together, yet because it’s adapted from a novel (by Philippe Djian), the movie has a novel’s richness as it explores the main character’s perfectionism and taste for self-punishment that leads her into an affair with that best friend’s husband (Christian Berkel). We also get sidelights on her feckless ex-husband (Charles Berling) and their son (Jonas Bloquet), who’s so stupid that he insists that his girlfriend’s baby is his even though the baby is born black when both the supposed parents are white. Director Paul Verhoeven can’t keep sensationalism completely at bay, but after wandering in the wilderness for years, the guy who helmed Total Recall and Basic Instinct seems surprisingly at home in this female-driven, intellectual piece.

 

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Elle runs Fri-Sun at the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, 3200 Darnell St, FW. Tickets are $7-9. Call 817-738-9215.

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