Repulsion (1965)

Repulsion - Catherine Deneuve

Everyone should be able to relate to Roman Polanski’s Repulsion – after all, who hasn’t gone a little crazy when their flatmates went out of town? Spending the week in the same dressing gown, killing time (and maybe some other things) … we’ve all been there.

Repulsion - Hands from the wall

Repulsion is a dizzying spiralling descent into psychosis, crafted with fastidious cinematography that evokes a disquieting feeling of half-sleep aided by a jittery, creaky soundtrack. It could be a companion piece to Eraserhead (and I would be surprised if it wasn’t a significant influence on Lynch’s masterpiece); each film delves into their protagonist’s psyche with surreal, nightmarish imagery and a spare monochrome palette. Eraserhead’s madness is impelled by fear of parenthood, but Repulsion’s triggers are isolation and a history of sexual abuse, the latter suggested with sinister subtlety.

Repulsion - Crack in the wall

There’s commendable patience here; while a modern remake of Repulsion might spend most of the film trapped in the apartment with Carol (Catherine Deneuve), the first half of the film merely hints at her instability. It’s not just her reserved, awkward demeanour, but the cracks that run through the pavement beneath her and the street excavation she walks past daily as it accrues debris, becoming chaotic rubble.

Rating: 181/200

7 thoughts on “Repulsion (1965)

    • She really is – it’s one of those roles that could be so poorly played (and even might not read that well in a script) but she inhabits the role to the point that you forget you’re watching an actor.

  1. I’ve only just got Eraserhead’s creepiness out of my head after watching it for the first time a few weeks back and now it’s back after you mentioned it! Ha! I’ve not seen this but had it recommended to me a few times. Nice write up.

    • Eraserhead is one of those films that surface when you least expect (or want) it to. I hope it doesn’t pop into my head when I have kids! This is definitely worth checking out: like Eraserhead it requires close attention, but it is rewarding. I’m glad i set aside an afternoon to watch it properly, as for some reason I thought it was a subtitled film…

      Thanks for the comment – it definitely didn’t deserve to end up in my spam queue!

    • It’s very freaky in a kind of Eraserhead way, but I think it’s a good thing when a film really gets inside your head. Hope you like it 🙂

  2. Pingback: Double Feature: Listen Up Philip (2014) and Queen of Earth (2015) | ccpopculture

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