Some movies stick to you, whether you like it or not, long after you have left the theater, turned off the television, or shut the computer. Most of the time, this cemented impression is a sign of a good movie and it is an element that speaks louder than any other elements of the film. This is one of those times.

Elle is the deeply troubling tale of Michéle Leblanc (Isabelle Huppert), the CEO of a successful video game company, who is raped in her home by an intruder in a ski mask. While justifiably horrified at the time of the crime, she quickly snaps back into her hardened ways and operates as though nothing happened. She tells her ex-husband, Richard (Charles Berling), her best friend, Anna (Anne Consigny), and her best friend’s husband, Robert (Christian Berkel) – with whom Michéle is having an affair – at a dinner that she had been raped, with very little alarm or distress.

Still, while alone, Michéle is worried she will be attacked again – this fear is exacerbated by the text messages she receives from an unknown number – and she stocks her house with pepper spray and tomahawks. In her state of suppressed fear, she begins to desire her new neighbor, the dashing Patrick (Laurent Lafitte), who is married to a deeply religious woman (Virginie Efira).

What follows is a twisted exploration into complex and, more often than not, unconventional, sexual relationships between nearly all of the characters. As a brief example: after her baby was born a still-birth, Anna breastfed Michéle’s son, Vincent (Jonas Bloquet), whom was born on the same day. Michéle has felt insecure about her relationship with her son ever since, as Vincent and Anna remained close.

It is difficult to fit Elle into any one box of genre. It is certainly a thriller at times – there are two cases of who-done-it, the first is the rape, the second is a mysterious crime committed by Michéle’s father years ago. But it is also a drama, centered around a small cast of characters who all interact with one another at some point in Elle. It also, although less so than the previous two, can be classified as a comedy, albeit, a very, very dark one.

It may be this ambiguity of genre that creates Elle‘s lasting impression. It is a film unlike any other and it is difficult to classify therefore it is difficult to dismiss.

The small, well acted, cast holds the most disturbing aspects of Elle together. For her performance, Huppert won the Golden Globe for Best Actress and was nominated for the same award at the Oscars.

Elle also won the Golden Globe for Best Foreign Language Film.

The Blu-ray edition of Elle includes a critical segment in which the film’s director, Paul Verhoeven and Huppert discuss the themes of the film and the cavernous depths of Huppert’s character. While Elle is a must-watch on its own, the Blu-ray commentary adds an explanation that warrants further viewings of the film – if you can stomach it.