1963 French made Black and white Roman Polanski film with a very young Catherine Deneuve; this was Polanski's first English speaking film, and an exceptional thriller for its time. Transfer from older B&W film to DVD is probably about as good as it could get, the sound and film being poor in the original film, there wasn't much to work with and I believe it was cleaned up as best it could be. No extras and no subtitles available, only the movie and a scene selection.
Carol (Deneuve) is a young beautician who lives with her sister in a tiny apartment. Amazingly beautiful, Carol is nonetheless an aloof, spacey, loner who a...well...repulsion, of men.
Her sister Helen brings home her boyfriend Michael (Ian Hendry) who Carol dislikes, and has a lusty romp, which deeply disturbs Carol in the next room. We are next introduced to Colin, a young man who is infatuated with Carol, and deeply desires to date her, trying to arrange a dinner with her. She doesn't just spurn his attentions but ignores him almost completely, and I was given the impression that in her mind she felt that maybe he would just go away. He does not go away, however, and takes her silence as an affirmative that she would have dinner with him.
In the midst of all this, we are treated to scenes with Carol alone, walking down the street ignoring the cat calls of men, sitting silent and unresponsive at her job, and always showing the twitchy signs of mental disturbance. Rubbing at her face, looking dazed and confused, brushing imaginary dirt from chairs, and obsessive toiletry rearrangement in her bathroom. These first signs are subtle, and throughout the movie develop in intensity and strangeness.
Colin corners Carol by confronting her with their missed date, and manages to get her into his car where he kisses her. She sits like a stump during his kiss, then bolts from the car, running home scrubbing at her mouth and obsessively brushes her teeth before throwing away Michael's things in the bathroom.
Then Helen leaves on holiday, leaving Carol alone in the apartment, who is ill-equipped to be alone. After being sent home from work for cutting a customer's hand during a manicure, we begin our journey with Carol on her downward spiral into madness.
Polanski did a beautiful job on depicting Carol's increasing madness, and though this was very early in her career, Deneuve's own naturally aloof demeanor heightened her performance into true believability. Because she is an achingly beautiful and alluring woman at any age, I think using her in this film only heightened the terror of what Carol was becoming.
We follow Carol as she prowls through the apartment, leaving food out to rot, overflowing the tub, seeing people that aren't there, listening to the walls cracking, imagining herself being raped, listening to the loud insistent ticking of the clock; and in one beautifully filmed scene, crawling down a hallway made of putty-like hands all reaching out to grab her. She takes walks in her housecoat, and irons her sister's dress without the iron plugged in, getting twitchier by the second.
This is a dark and disturbing film, inventing the word "creepy" and showcasing insanity. Psycho has nothing on Repulsion as far as intensity and terror.
Of honorable mention is an extra actor at the end of the movie. When Sis comes home and discovers Carol's activities, it seems all of the buildings residents come into their tiny apartment, and there is this one guy with a moustache *so funny* that despite the uneasy horror of the movie I had to laugh my butt off. The ending left me a little flat, not tying up the loose threads, but this is still a must see for any fan of suspense horror. Enjoy!