Repulsion Film Details
Overview: A sex-repulsed woman who disapproves of her sister’s boyfriend sinks into depression and has horrific visions of rape and violence.
Tagline: The nightmare world of a virgin’s dreams becomes the screen’s shocking reality!
Review: “Repulsion” is one of those films you like to use for an Oscar retrospective, to illustrate both the farce of the award nomination process and the attitude change that comes with a little historical perspective. While perhaps not Best Picture material for a mass audience, Polanski’s direction and Deneuve’s performance dwarf those actually nominated; when is the last time anyone even gave a thought to “Darling” or “Ship of Fools”. And though worthy of its nominations, “The Collector” (in the same Psycho-Drama genre as “Repulsion”) loses any contest between directors and actresses. Only Elizabeth Hartman in “Patch of Blue” turned in a better (arguably of course) 1965 performance than Deneuve’s “Carol”. Films are a storytelling device with a common visual language and with certain conventions. “Repulsion” is an example of elliptical storytelling as Carol’s decent into madness is revealed in a maddeningly slow process as thin layers of her coping skills are peeled away one-by-one. For most first time viewers the pacing will be agonizingly slow. In part because it is hard to identify with Deneuve’s’ character and the secondary characters are too irrelevant for any special concern. Once you understand that this is a film you are meant to read, you see that the slow pacing is both intentional and necessary. It gives an attentive viewer enough time to explore the depth of each scene. Then you will see an entirely different film than the one a causal viewer is watching because “Repulsion” has this third dimension. Watch it a second time because you have to know the shape of this movie (and its surprises), before you can become totally involved in its process. This is a film that withholds its best from a first viewing. Reading a film is something we all should be able to do, not just the pompous people who prattle on about the language of film. The fact is that all movies have codes and most of the codes are part of our general culture-we just have to train ourselves to find them and make them a part of our conscious viewing and not just something that acts on our subconscious. “Repulsion” is the best primer I can think of for picking up this viewing technique because it is full of shared cultural codes and it does not race along so fast that you miss the images. Polanski positioned it midway between European new wave and conventional Hollywood, you get a concrete and relatively easy-to-follow story with tons of subtle visual and audio clues working on the attentive viewers subconscious. Some are obvious, like the bathtub. Carol uses the bathtub as a means of purgation and regeneration after her unsatisfactory interactions with the world outside. This is an appropriate use in our culture, so when she allows the tub to overflow it signals that her life is coming apart. When she turns off the water but does not get into or even drain the tub Polanski is signaling that Carol is doomed; because as time passes the now cold water in the tub (soon joined by a dead body) prevents her from performing the purgation and regeneration ritual she needs. Throughout the film the scenes are filled with dysfunctional and disorienting images and sounds. When Carol goes outside the street is torn up for pipeline work, there is a car accident, street musicians walk backwards (banjo and spoon players are weird even when walking conventionally). The bells of the convent next door chime discordantly during moments of torment. The sounds of children playing inside the walled convent courtyard taunt Carol with a world of peace and protection that she can never hope to share. Progressively, Polanski goes deeper and deeper into Carol’s psyche, as her apartment is rendered both her prison and the dark fantasy world of her mind. The film is basically a chronicle of her slow descent into complete madness. Deneuve is utterly convincing in her role. Largely mute, she must convey almost everything through gesture and expression. Which gives the film a “Wait Until Dark” quality as Polanski plays with one of our most primal fears: that someone will come into a place where we believe we are safe and hurt us. It is even worse in Carol’s case because that someone is her abusive father, whose dark figure she conjures up whenever she is alone. Her persistent waking nightmare (or hallucination) is of being ravished by her father while alone in the apartment. Each time she is brought back to reality by the shrill ring of the telephone until finally she cuts the phone cord with a straight razor, thus ending her last link to reality. There is the slowly rotting food on the counter, including a scary looking skinned rabbit. It looked like a very large fetal pig at first but then I remembered a similar image in “Roger and Me”. Polanski draws an amazing performance from the then 21 year old Deneuve. In ”Polanski: The Filmmaker as Voyeur,” he related being unhappy with the candlestick scene and provoking Deneuve until she gave him what he wanted. ”She tried to control her rage, but Polanski continued to bait her,” Barbara Leaming wrote. ”Then she exploded. He gave her the candlestick and she swung at him. The camera had been rolling, and now Polanski had the performance he wanted. . . . The Deneuve the spectator sees on screen is not acting — the violence is real, directed at Polanski.” Watch the scene several times just to check out Deneuve’s expression. Ultimately Polanski exonerates Carol. Watching the film again, with the knowledge of the reasons for Carol’s disintegration (which is revealed in Polanski’s final “Rosebud” shot) , we only want to protect her. Based on that shot I’m sure Polanski wanted us to view/experience the film several times.
Country: United Kingdom
Duration: 105 min
Genre: Drama, Horror, Thriller
Also known as: Repulsion,Wstręt,Répulsion,Avsporet,Ekel,Repulsión,Відраза,Repulsie,Repulsa,反撥,Hanpatsu,Avsky,Одвратност,Inho,Enzejar,Chok,Pasibjaurejimas,Αποστροφή,Tiksinti,Apostrofi,Repulsione,Отвращение,Iszonyat,Repulsa ao Sexo