Roman Polanski followed up his international breakthrough Knife in the Water with this controversial, chilling tale of psychosis. Catherine Deneuve is Carol, a fragile, frigid young beauty cracking up in her London flat when left alone by her vacationing sister. She is soon haunted by specters real and imagined, and her insanity grows to a violent, hysterical pitch. Thanks to its disturbing detail and Polanski’s adeptness at turning claustrophobic space into an emotional minefield, Repulsion is a surreal, mind-bending odyssey into personal horror, and it remains one of cinema’s most shocking psychological thrillers. —The Criterion Collection
The son of a Polish Jew and a Russian immigrant, Polanski was born in Paris on August 18, 1933. When he was three, his family moved to the Polish town of Krakow, an unfortunate decision given that the Germans invaded the city in 1940. Things went from bad to worse with the formation of Krakow’s Jewish ghetto, and Polanski’s family was the target of further persecution when his parents were deported to a concentration camp. Just before he was to be taken away, however, Polanski’s father helped his son escape, and the boy managed to survive with help from kindly Catholic families, although he was at times forced to fend for himself. (At one point, the Germans decided to use Polanski for idle target practice.) It was during this period that Polanski became a devoted cinephile, seeking refuge in movie houses whenever possible. Shortly after sustaining serious injuries in an explosion, Polanski learned of his mother’s death at Auschwitz. His father survived the camps, and moved back to Krakow… read more
The first half-hour is really just about a beautiful and shy young woman mumbling around her house and the beauty salon where she works... then things start to get more interesting. "Repulsion" is slow-paced but very efective with its cinematography and sound... I jumped off my seat a couple of times. However it would have been nice to get to the origin of Carol's repulsion for men. Cool movie nonetheless!
Not gonna lie, this one bored me a bit. Shot design was great, obviously, but I don't feel like we got to understand Carol as much as we could have. Her neurosis/psychosis was interesting but I couldn't figure out why her mental state was so fragile...
Noteworthy in many ways, not least for introducing a pixieish Deneuve into the Anglosphere, or even for Polanski’s take on the Swinging '60s as shot through his own stylish lens. Repulsion broadly presents such a contrasting take on modern ennui to its continental counterparts (cf. Antonioni, or even Blowup), swapping the general malaise for a more penetrating psychosexual descent, conjured with finesse through its subtly swirling frame. A slow-burner, but in its own creeping way, a keeper.
More gems from around the world in this quarterly Tumblr round-up.
"It was Truffaut," noted Laura Barton in a profile for the Guardian last year, "who said she had to be unlocked; that there was in her
“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… read review
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Roman Polanski is probably most known for his hit film, Rosemary’s Baby, Chinatown and his even more-recent hit, The Pianist, which won Oscars… read review
Although there were many beautiful things about this Film, Repulsion was deeply flawed in my eyes. The cinematography was absolutely breath taking, and the vibrant 1960s style was leaving me with a… read review