I'd been waiting to see this for weeks, such has been the 'buzz', but it's been showing at near-impossible screening times - that is until today, right at the end of its run, when it fortuitously had a single morning matinee showing. So to go I was compelled.
Isabelle Huppert is at the heart of this French-language film, playing a divorcee living alone in a Paris house with her cat - and who, in the very opening scene, is subject to a violent assault and rape by a masked intruder. She has, of course, no idea who the assailant was. Most films, after starting like this, would concentrate on her attempts to uncover the identity of her attacker - and so this film does too to some extent, but in doing that it goes off into most unexpected directions. She has a past connected with a controversial and notorious event in her childhood which haunts her, and after this rape attack she does not report it to the police.
She is boss of a firm creating computer games, some grisly, with relations towards her staff being firm but sympathetic. She also enjoys a reasonably tolerant-friendly acquaintanceship with an over-the-road couple, including an ultra-religious young wife. However, when it comes to her own relations there's friction with all of them - her ex and his new partner, her mother and her much younger toy-boy also soon-to-be husband, her son and his shouty, expectant partner, as well as her imprisoned, advance-aged father whom she's virtually cut right out of her life.
There's an aspect of her personality that took me (and I'd guess nearly all of the audience) by complete surprise which puts a question mark over some of her conduct and attitudes.
It's a story that defies prediction, Huppert's performance being faultless. It's more than just a thriller. I found, though, that now and again events and the conduct of Huppert's character did stretch credibility somewhat, though without actually snapping it.
I think at two hours ten minutes it was a good twenty minutes overlong (at least), but even so, Verhoeven keeps things moving ahead interestingly enough.
By the way, I was a bit apprehensive in having seen Huppert's cat featured in the trailer, and every time the scene was in the house I was afraid that we'd see that her pet had come to an unfortunate end. If there's anyone who shares my particular mental trait I'm happy to report that no such fate takes place.
I'd been looking forward immensely to seeing this film. If, in the final analysis, it doesn't quite reach the heights I'd been hoping for it does come very close to it....................7.5.