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Cannes: Paul Verhoeven Sees ‘Elle’ as Nuanced Thriller (EXCLUSIVE)

SBS Intl. brings Verhoeven’s latest onto the market at Cannes

Having produced films by Roman Polanski (“Carnage”) and Brian De Palma (“Passion”) and co-produced David Cronenberg’s “Map to the Stars”), Said Ben Said’s Paris-based SBS Prods. will not only produce but distribute in France and sell internationally Isabelle Huppert starrer “Elle,” only the second film in 10 years from Paul Verhoeven.

Verhoeven had Hollywood success with films such as “Robocop” (1987), “Total Recall” (1990), “Basic Instinct” (1992), “Starship Troopers” (1997) and “Hollow Man” (2000).

“I had a strong feeling with this one that I was doing something that I’d never done before, which applied when I made ‘Robocop,’ ” Verhoeven told Variety.

Written by David Birke (“13 Sins), “Elle” is based on “Oh…,” a novel by France’s Phillippe Dijan in which the protagonist, Michelle, played by Huppert, has a son whose girlfriend is pregnant, but by another man. Michelle herself is divorced and having an affair with her best friend’s husband, while her mother has has a string of thirtysomething lovers. But Michelle is also attacked at home by an unknown assailant.

There’s much more to “Elle” than just a rape-revenge thriller, the helmer insists. It’s “a mystery story. Part of the film consists in Isabelle Huppert’s character finding out if the rapist is somebody she knows. But there are other elements in the story, about her mother and father, her son, her lover, her best friend.”

Now in post, “Elle” will be ready for delivery in February 2016. Verhoeven has nothing but praise for Huppert’s performance. “She is an extremely gifted actress that gives you more than what’s on paper… even what’s in the book. She does experiments in her mind to get to places that she would probably avoid in reality. And she does that in an absolutely unique way.”

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