Isabelle Huppert plays a ruthless video game executive in (21) Elle (pictured), which should be enough in itself to sell the film. But Elle is also directed by Paul Verhoeven, who, after a Hollywood run that included RoboCop, Total Recall, and Showgirls, went home to the Netherlands for World War II drama Black Book, starring Carice van Houten as a Jewish woman who becomes a resistance spy. In the decade since, he's kept quiet, releasing only a small film called Tricked while trying to get together a bigger project. Elle is his comeback, and, given that it places Huppert in a tense game with a man who attacked her, it doesn't seem like he's softened up one bit.
(22) Toni Erdmann is also about a dedicated exec, a jet-setting woman (Sandra Hüller) whose relationship with her free-spirited music teacher dad (Peter Simonischek) has drifted. They seem destined to grow more distant until he calls on his alter ego, a wilder, freer version of himself that allows the two to bridge the gap. Sounds odd, maybe, but the film is written and directed by Germany's Maren Ade, whose last film, the relationship drama Everyone Else, showed an incredible talent for catching all the little ways people wound and criticize the ones they love.
The main character (Adèle Haenel) in (23) The Unknown Girl isn't an executive — she's a doctor who chooses to ignore a late visitor who comes to her clinic after she's closed for the day. The next day, a dead girl is found nearby, and the doctor becomes obsessed with finding out her identity. The Unknown Girl is the latest film from the Dardenne brothers, favorites of Cannes, whose work often explores people in tenuous economic positions. This sounds no different, and, coming off of the high of 2014's Two Days, One Night, it's one to really look forward to.