A young couple move into an apartment, only to be surrounded by peculiar neighbors and occurrences. When the wife becomes mysteriously pregnant, paranoia over the safety of her unborn child begins to control her life.
In London, Belgian immigrant Carol Ledoux shares an apartment with her older sister Helen, and works as a manicurist at a beauty salon. Helen uses the word "sensitive" to describe Carol's overall demeanor, which is almost like she walks around in a daze, rarely speaking up about anything. When she does speak up, it generally is about something against one of those few issues on which she obsesses, such as Helen's boyfriend Michael's invasion of her space at the apartment. That specific issue may be more about men in general than just Michael's actions, as witnessed by Carol being agitated by hearing Helen and Michael's lovemaking, and she not being able to rebuff the advances effectively of a male suitor, Colin, who is infatuated with her. One of those other obsessive issues is noticing cracks and always wanting to fix them. While Helen and Michael leave on a vacation to Pisa, Italy, Carol chooses largely to lock herself in the apartment, ditching work. There, she is almost hypnotized... Written by
"Repulsion" is a great example of how to make a truly scary movie: The trick is not to fill the screen with monsters or indestructible serial killers, it is to portray fear in a way that will be familiar to the audience. It is clear from early on in the film that the lead character, Carol, played brilliantly by an extremely young-looking Catherine Deneuve, is not exactly normal. When her sister leaves her alone in their shared London apartment for a few days, however, the things that scare Carol are the sorts of things that have scared a lot of people spending the night alone, such as hearing (imagined) footsteps in the hallway and the like. Of course, while normal people get a brief fright from such a thing, Carol descends into a madness of hallucinations. The movie is seen almost entirely from her point of view, using techniques borrowed by later directors such as Darren Aronofsky for his movie, "Pi", which gives the entire movie a claustrophobic feeling that enhances the impact of Carol's hallucinations.
There are no doubt people who would like to explicate this film as an exploration of sexual repression or the like, and perhaps they are indeed hitting the mark in doing so, but this film works brilliantly as pure cinema, with no metaphoric subtext needed.
Overall Rating: 4 stars (out of 4), or 9 (out of 10)
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