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Repulsion (1965)


104 minutes
Cast and Crew
Production Companies

Roman Polanski is a frickin' genius. First, he made me paranoid with Rosemary's Baby, then he made me laugh in The Fearless Vampire Killers. He intrigued me with the secrets of The Ninth Gate. Now, he's freaked me out, plain and simple... I'm nearly afraid to be a male.

Repulsion tells the tale of Carol (Catherine Deneuve), a foreigner living in England. She's a quiet, introverted girl, one prone to staring off into space at any given moment. She lives with her sister Helen, who has a lover who Carol detests. In fact, Carol seems to have problems with all the men she comes in contact with.

When Helen goes off on an Italian holiday, she leaves Carol to her own devices. This isolation in her own home sends the brimming imagination of Carol into overdrive. She spirals into herself, and her sanity cracks. It appears that this breakdown has something to do with men, but the movie leaves it all up to interpretation.

So, my description leaves something to be desired. Doesn't seem too terribly scary, huh? This is why Polanski is a genius. His artful directorial stance, the grace with which he positions the camera to make a madhouse of a simple London apartment is pure genius. He uses simple items, everyday imagery, and makes it take on a terrifying new look. You'll never eat rabbit again, if you ever have.

Of course, even with masterful strokes of the lens, such an effective study of madness must have a compelling and believable person-going-mad, and Deneuve provides this. Note the way her eyes flick about and how much she says with silence.

Polanski will never stop churning out great films. He may slip once or twice (Pirates, what was he thinking?), but he always regains his footing, and forges ahead. Repulsion is a prime example of the kind of finesse and thrills of which he is capable. See it now.