A young couple moves in to an apartment only to be surrounded by peculiar neighbors and occurrences. When the wife becomes mysteriously pregnant, paranoia over the safety of her unborn child begins to control her life.
In London, Belgian immigrant Carol Ledoux shares an apartment with her older sister Helen, and works as a manicurist at a beauty salon. Helen uses the word "sensitive" to describe Carol's overall demeanor, which is almost like she walks around in a daze, rarely speaking up about anything. When she does speak up, it generally is about something against one of those few issues on which she obsesses, such as Helen's boyfriend Michael's invasion of her space at the apartment. That specific issue may be more about men in general than just Michael's actions, as witnessed by Carol being agitated by hearing Helen and Michael's lovemaking, and she not being able to rebuff the advances effectively of a male suitor, Colin, who is infatuated with her. One of those other obsessive issues is noticing cracks and always wanting to fix them. While Helen and Michael leave on a vacation to Pisa, Italy, Carol chooses largely to lock herself in the apartment, ditching work. There, she is almost hypnotized... Written by
Repulsion is a 1965 Polanski psychological horror/thriller (emphasis on the psychological) about a woman's descent into madness. Carol's (Catherine Deneuve) fear of men (the cause of which is hinted at but never explained) combined with her incredibly intense sexual repression, spirals into outright madness over a course of several days, as she's left largely alone in her apartment. A cascade of mental collapses, hallucinations, violence, and death follow.
This is a movie that takes a bit to keep going, and the first half primarily focuses on establishing Carol's character. We slowly come to realize that something is clearly wrong with Deneuve's character. Then, in the latter half of the movie, things greatly accelerate as Carol's sister leaves her alone for a few days for a holiday with an older man, and Carol's grip on reality rapidly deteriorates. The very walls of her apartment seem to be cracking and leaking, she leaves rotting food all over the place, and she repeatedly has delusions of being attacked and forced to have sex by a sinister man.
Repulsion is creepy, disturbing, and even downright shocking, on occasion. I was bored somewhat by the slower initial half, but in retrospect, it's necessary for the movie to accomplish its highly effective latter portion. It's a nice introduction to Catherine Deneuve (who's startlingly beautiful, even as such a disturbed character), and it has an ending that's almost as haunting and memorable as another Roman Polanski favorite, Chinatown. Not a bad movie to be compared to, in my opinion.
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