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Lunch » Tags » Horror Movies » Reviews » Repulsion » User review

Polanski does it again.

  • Apr 29, 2011
**** out of ****

Every good filmmaker knows that black-and-white photography equals instant surrealism, as long as that's what you're aiming for. That is what Roman Polanski was aiming for when he made "Repulsion", which is shot in those gloriously dream-like (or nightmarish) two colors. It's one of the director's best films, if not only for the memorable surrealistic scenes. It's a horror film, a thriller, a psychological drama, and even a bit of a tragedy, all rolled up into one. Some will call it a mess; I call it a work of art.

If this is a horror film, then it's a really, really good one. But then again, I'm not so sure that one could call it a film of such a genre, even though it does have its share of frightening and nightmarish surrealistic imagery and situations. It is an honest depiction of madness, and it inspired many films to follow. Polanski's follow-up to "Knife in the Water" could not have been more controversial, more darkly beautiful, or more mysterious and wondrously dreadful. This film is not pleasant, and instead, it's actually quite "unpleasant". To call it "anti-entertainment" would come off as insulting, while calling the film "entertaining" would be a tad misleading, on my part.

Did I say "madness"? The film is about a shy woman named Carole. She is so shy that she hasn't even approached romance or sexual pleasures, and she's "of age". Her sister is her polar opposite, and often times scores big when it comes to men. Perhaps "romance" is not a word that Carole finds particularly fascinating, but when a man expresses interest in her, this kind of gets her blood pumping. Initially, I'd say this in a good way, but as the plot thickens, we see that everything just isn't "alright" with poor Carole.

In fact, she's going completely bonkers. When her sister leaves her alone for a couple of days, Carole is tortured by psychological images of sexuality, rape, and violence. Carole is raped, and she murders, whilst hallucinating such things; and the film then becomes a surrealistic nightmare. Thanks to a lack of music (for the most part, at least) and a lot of genuine atmospheric chills, this film does indeed get the job done when it comes to complex story-telling involving a duel with the human mind. As far as those films go, this one's a classic.

Horror movies, and I'm not saying that "Repulsion" is one, need a character. Yes; just one. Not a lot, because too often do horror films try to balance multiple people, and too often do they fail. The character, Carole, is played by Catherine Deneuve. Now, what's special and haunting about this performance is that fact that somehow, Deneuve finds a way to get under your skin. She brings a seemingly impossible amount of claustrophobic tension to this film with her chilling looks, actions, and voice. And all-around, this film is just freaky. There's a memorable scene in which Carole is running through the house, while hands are coming out of cracks which have formed in the walls. Of course, this is a hallucination, and of course, it's down-right brilliant. The cinematography is spell-binding; and even more fascinating is the stuff that it's capturing. I kid you not; "Repulsion" is masterful filmmaking from a master filmmaker, he being Roman Polanski. Controversial not only for his films, but also for his life, Polanski will be remembered; for the better or for the worst. This is one of his best films. Polanski has a knack for chills, spills, and thrills. So does "Repulsion". And that's what I love about it.

*Fun Fact, for all you "Black Swan" fans: this films served as inspiration for Aronofsky's film, an so did the ballet-themed film, "The Red Shoes".

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More Repulsion reviews
review by . November 18, 2008
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) …
review by . December 11, 2008
Even on her good days, Carol lives on the edge of sanity; she stares endlessly at sidewalks cracks, feels things crawling on her body, and doesn't respond to people. And when her sister leaves her alone for two weeks, Carol loses her grip on reality completely.     Roman Polanski's first English language film is almost a silent movie with just a bit of dialogue. The action is mostly in Carol's mind as she sees, hears, and feels things that go bump in the night, fears many have …
About the reviewer
Ryan J. Marshall ()
Ranked #11
It's very likely that the only kind of reviews I'll ever post here are movie reviews. I'm very passionate about film; and at this point, it pretty much controls my life. Film gives us a purpose; … more
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About this movie


First film of the Apartment Life Trilogy.

Roman Polanksi's first English language production.
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Director: Roman Polanski
Genre: Drama, Horror
Release Date: October 3, 1965
MPAA Rating: Unrated
Screen Writer: Roman Polanski
Runtime: 1hr 45min
Studio: Compton Films, Tekli British Productions
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