Repulsion (1965)

Directed by Roman Polanski


“The nightmare world of a virgin’s dreams becomes the screen’s shocking reality!”

I first saw this film when I was on a Catherine Deneuve kick (the first of many) in the 90s thanks to The Umbrellas of Cherbourg (1964). I also happened to be on a Roman Polanski kick after seeing Death and the Maiden (1994) in the theater. One plus one equals… I don’t know. I didn’t go to school for math.

Repulsion is such an odd duck. I read that Polanski came up with this film in an effort to have a commercial success which would then help fund the film he really wanted to make, Cut-de-sac (1966). To think that Repulsion was designed to be a commercial success is astounding. This is like the bizarro version of a commercial success. It really has none of the ingredients of a crowd pleaser with the one exception maybe being Catherine Deneuve herself, but that would be something of a red herring. If she were the draw I expect viewers felt pretty bamboozled early in the film.

I remember feeling kind of revolted when I finished the film. The whole thing is really pretty off-putting and unpleasant. But they do such an incredible job of putting you in the mind of Carol. The crumbling interior of the apartment; the rotting rabbit carcass; the silence and isolation. It’s all so powerful.

It isn’t fun or entertaining, but if you’re looking to become immersed in a film that takes you to dark places, look no further.

— B

My rating: 9/10

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