Repulsion Movie Review
Figure 1: Repulsion Movie Poster
The Roman Polanski film Repulsion (1965) is one of those rarer movie's that really draws you into the head of the protagonist of the movie Carol Ledoux, portrayed excellently by the French, Catherine Deneuve, an actress who has starred in many spectacular movies throughout her career."There can't be many other films which so plausibly show an entire, warped world created from a single point of view".(Bradshaw, 2013) The film itself attempts to delve into the mind of a French woman living in London during the era of free love and peace known as the swinging 60's.Many people were taking part in the culture of free love and expression during this time, however the character that we are made to focus on is portrayed as having sexual insecurities, the idea of being afraid of men and physical contact is a prevalent theme throughout the entire film, with the way Carol acts when different types of men that she encounters try to approach her. Some are much more friendly and kind hearted whilst others are much more sinister.
The film itself is presented as a view into Carol's mind as she slowly descends into madness. The film starts off with a key scene that represents the type of character that Carol will be. She is seen staring into nothingness, as if she was unconsciously somewhere else. A trait that is very common with the mentally unstable, helping to create a series of quick judgements about Carol's character. We also see the start of her insecurities during a moving scene where she walks past a group of builders on the streets of London who take a liking to her."Deneuve, as the woman whose fear of sexual contact is at the base of her neurosis, has seldom been less like her icy self"(Malcolm, 2013) Catherine Deneuve gives a wonderfully subtle performance as this increasingly catatonic girl, using slight motions of body language to show the increasing uncomfortable world that this woman is living in.
Figure 2: Still from Repulsion showing the main character, Carol
The biggest factor's behind the success of this movie in terms of conveying the dramatic tension and often terrifying undertones of the plot have to be the impressive cinematography and sound design. Although not seen as much in the streets of London, when the scenes are taking place in the confines of Carol's apartment the tension in the film starts to increase. As Carol starts to lose her grip on reality, the apartment itself begins to crack and break away, reflecting the strain that being on her own in this world and even her obsessive nature is having on her mentality. The Apartment is the most important aspect of the film, as if it could be seen as the antagonist of the movie, being a direct cause of Carol's deterioration. It almost comes to life and attack's her as if it wants to drive her to the edge, this is scene in a few scenes, such as in a scene close to the end of the film where the walls become a mass of hands, trying to grope and touch Carol, but mainly through the incredibly disturbing rape scenes that are spread throughout the movie.
Figure 3: Hands jut out of the Apartment Walls
During these scenes all sound is cut apart from the ticking of a clock, you are forced to watch a close up shot of Carol, being subjected to an incredibly personal attack. Something that she has probably been fearing for all of her life.
"you mayfeel the urge to laugh out of sheer need to break the tension, and Polanski knows it" (Humanik, 2012) .These scene's are designed in a such as way to make you feel incredibly uncomfortable, being made to sit there and watch someone be raped multiple times throughout the film is quite an exhausting, feeling. You want to look away but you are drawn to the scene, which is rather unsettling in its own right. These scenes are made even more unsettling by Carol, putting on lipstick just before she is attacked, as if she is getting ready for it to happen, a shocking moment that really shows her madness.
Figure 4: Carol putting on lipstick before her attack.
The other factor behind this movies success is its sound design, the entire time there is a sound in the background, although some are not as obvious as others. It could be the ticking of a clock, the ringing of a phone which got louder and louder as the film progresses or the sound of a bell ringing in the chapel next door. Each of these help to create an agitating environment for both the character's and the audience, leaving you on the edge of your seats, wanting to look away but being unable to.
Repulsion is one of those films that is able to draw you completely into its world, with its fantastic set and sound design as well as with some stunning performance's from all of the actors and actresses, Carol is made to seem like someone we as an audience should be terrified whilst also being someone we should pity. Giving this movie an interesting appeal. Personally I would highly recommend this film to anyone who hasn't seen it or anyone who is interested in the way a person can be effected mentally by there surroundings and past (a part of the film that I wont ruin and leave to you to interpret in your own way).
Figure 1: http://www.listal.com/viewimage/930279h
Figure 3: http://popcultureandfeelings.com/2010/12/my-complicated-feelings-about-roman-polanski/
Figure 4: http://ayunie-adiana.blogspot.co.uk/2013/11/mise-en-scene-film-programme-repulsion.html
Peter Bradshaw,The Guardian, http://www.theguardian.com/film/2013/jan/03/repulsion-review, 2013
Derek Malcolm, Evening Standard, http://www.standard.co.uk/goingout/film/also-showing-chinatown-repulsion-and-playing-for-keeps-8438115.html, 2013
Humanik, The projection booth, http://projectionbooth.blogspot.co.uk/2011/03/viewing-log-4.html#repulsion, 2011,