Repulsion
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A Note Regarding Spoilers

The following FAQ entries may contain spoilers. Only the biggest ones (if any) will be covered with spoiler tags. Spoiler tags have been used sparingly in order to make the page more readable.

For detailed information about the amounts and types of (a) sex and nudity, (b) violence and gore, (c) profanity, (d) alcohol, drugs, and smoking, and (e) frightening and intense scenes in this movie, consult the IMDb Parents Guide for this movie. The Parents Guide for Repulsion can be found here.

A pretty, young Belgian girl, Carole Ledoux (Catherine Deneuve), who works as a manicurist in a salon in London, is repulsed by the sexual attention she receives from men as well as by the married boyfriend of her sister Helen (Yvonne Furneaux), with whom she shares a flat. When Helen and Michael (Ian Hendry) leave for a holiday in Italy, Carole quits her job, barricades herself in the flat, and begins to suffer from hallucinations that plunge her deeper and deeper into madness.

No, Repulsion is based on a screenplay co-written by French-Polish director Roman Polanski and French screenwriter Grard Brach.

About 20 minutes into the film, just after Michael has spent the night, Carole asks her sister whether he's going to spend every night there. Helen replies that it's not Carole's concern. 'He's married, though,' is Carole's reply. 'It's my affair,' Helen retorts.

How does the movie end?

Helen and Michael return from Italy to find the door open, the flat in total disarray, the landlord on the living room floor, Colin in the bathtub, and Carole nowhere to be found. Carole having previously cut the telephone cord to keep his angry wife from calling, Michael goes looking for another phone to use. Helen sits down on her bed and notices Carole's arm sticking out from under it. The neighbors begin pouring into the flat. They move the bed to find Carole lying under it in a state of catatonia. Michael returns from having called an ambulance, picks up Carole, and carries her out the door. The camera pans to a photo of Carole as a young girl with her parents. It keeps panning until only Carole's right eye can be seen.

Although there are many triggers for a psychotic episode, a number of viewers conclude that it is because Carole was sexually abused by her father when she was a child. However, it's entirely possible that it's the other way around...Carole's repulsion towards men and their sexual advances may be the result of, not the cause of, her mental illness. The only indication the story gives that it might be the former is the focus on a photo taken of Carole as a young girl, standing near her parents, and looking unsmilingly in her father's direction. However, the look on Carole's face is hard to read. She could be riveted on him out of hatred, or she could be looking past him, displaying the same faraway look she has in her eyes throughout the movie, suggesting that Carole was already having mental problems at a young age.

Viewers who enjoyed Repulsion have recommended several movies that highlight a woman's descent into madness. Prior to Repulsion, there was Meshes of the Afternoon (1943), Sunset Blvd. (1950), Dementia (1955), and Il deserto rosso (Red Desert) (1964). Following Repulsion, movies arose like Ingmar Bergman's Persona (1966) and Ansikte mot ansikte (Face to Face) (1976), Roman Polanski's Rosemary's Baby (1968) (or were they really witches?), Robert Altman's Images (1972), and Franciois Truffaut's L'histoire d'Adèle H. (1975), plus Ms. 45 (1981), L'été meurtrier (One Deadly Summer) (1983), and Camille Claudel (1988) (one time lover of French sculptor August Rodin). More recently, there's been Mulholland Dr. (2001), Black Swan (2010), and Martha Marcy May Marlene (2011). Just to be fair, there are also some classic descent-into-madness movies that feature men, including: Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho (1960), Ingmar Bergman's Vargtimmen (Hour of the Wolf) (1968), Taxi Driver (1976), Apocalypse Now (1979), The Shining (1980), The Assassination of Richard Nixon (1994), Fight Club (1999), American Psycho (2000), A Beautiful Mind (2001), Secret Window (2004), and Shutter Island (2010).

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