1 November 2012 6:55 AM, PDT | GreenCine Daily | See recent GreenCine Daily news »

by Vadim Rizov

[If and when the power is restored to lower Manhattan, Repulsion screens at Film Forum in a new 35mm print.]

Roman Polanski's Repulsion is, famously, a subjective depiction of one woman's hallucinatory slide into madness. The subject is Carol, embodied by Catherine Deneuve, a reluctantly transplanted Belgian in the middle of swinging London (working at Vidal Sassoon's salon, no less). The trances she falls into during working hours indicate Carol is less than stable long before the knives come out. "You must be in love," one of the salon's middle-aged harridan customers says, but it's actually the opposite: Carol just wants to be left alone, left to withdraw from the pressures of unwanted male sexual attention. Her failure and attendant homicidal insanity form the film's trajectory.

Carol's descent has generally been accepted as (at least in part) the result of inarticulable sexual attraction unable to express itself. Thus Kenneth Tynan, reviewing Repulsion in Life magazine in 1965, describing her as "a demure, psychotic young virgin who wants sex but hates it, »

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Roman Polanski
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