33 of 34 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A very attractive buy
This was Polanski’s first English language feature, financed by a company whose previous output mostly consisted of soft porn! It showcases the director’s talent as a creator of menacing atmosphere, following a beautiful young French girl (Catherine Deneuve) as she descends into madness after being left alone in her flat by her sister. The central theme is...
Published on 25 May 2004 by S. P. Maxwell
1 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Laughable
I had high expectations of this film and I must say I was a little disappointed. It is definitely of its time, when the issues explored in this film could only be explored in the most simple and shocking manner. For me, there wasn't enough character exploration; especially of the central character. All we seemed to get was some pretty Belgian sweety who bumbled around the...
Published on 1 Aug 2012 by KurtMcGowan
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33 of 34 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A very attractive buy,
This was Polanski’s first English language feature, financed by a company whose previous output mostly consisted of soft porn! It showcases the director’s talent as a creator of menacing atmosphere, following a beautiful young French girl (Catherine Deneuve) as she descends into madness after being left alone in her flat by her sister. The central theme is fear and hatred of sex, but this is a claustrophobic and haunting film, not an academic treatise on female sexual paranoia. Polanski observes the descent into madness because it is an interesting and disturbing thing to watch (at least when seen through his eyes/lens), not because he wanted to make a point about psychology. It has aged well, and during my viewing of it the only bit that seemed dated was the strange sixties music that plays as Denueve is walking round the streets of London. However, even this has its charm and is not off-putting. The masterly direction ensures that the slightly stricter censorship of the day does not diminish the power and horror of some of the more unsettling scenes (I won’t go into details because I don’t want to spoil the plot if you haven’t seen it) The extras are interesting, including some retrospective interviews, which are always nice. Truly, it is disturbing, voyeuristic entertainment at its best.
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Eerie, sad and authentic,
This is part of Polanski's trilogy on the horrors of apartment living in the city. Having lived in a very old Paddington flat furnished in the 60s, I found this film full of familiar stuff.
Carol is a French girl living with her sister in South Kensington. Her sister is quite tough, carrying on an affair with a brutish married man, but Carol is very sensitive and troubled. Cracks appearing in the walls, aggressive landlords, food left around the house, the sounds of music, and sexual activity next door. It's all true.
Deneuve is good. The pictures of 60s South Ken are interesting, and the film says something about the isolation you feel in the big city in any era.
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very creepy,
Even on her good days, Carol lives on the edge of sanity; she stares endlessly at sidewalks cracks, feels things crawling on her body, and doesn't respond to people. But when her sister leaves her alone for two weeks, Carol loses her grip on reality and goes completely mad.
Roman Polanski's first English language film is almost a silent movie with just a bit of dialogue. The action is mostly in Carol's mind, as she sees, hears, and feels the things that go bump in the night, fears many have felt at one time or another, but she loses herself in her horror. Twenty-two year old Catherine Deneuve also made her English language debut in the film and gives a stunning performance. Her fragile beauty contrasts with the ugliness and brutality of her hallucinations and the audience is swept along on her journey.
This is not a movie to watch at night if you're afraid of the dark or of being alone. A very effective thriller.
30 of 32 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a cinematic masterpiece.,
This review is from: Repulsion [VHS]  (VHS Tape)
This film charts the slow descent of a French girl, Carol, played by Catherine Deneuve, into madness and horror. The acting in this film is superb, and especially by Deneuve, who brings to her part a delicate balance of vulnerability and strangeness. Right from the start, there is a sense that this beautiful, introverted, seemingly harmless girl, is not 'quite all there.' Give her a slight push, and she will tumble into total madness. As a performance, it is reminiscent of Anthony Perkins in Psycho.
The camera is on Carol all the time, and we see events unfold through her paranoid and schizophrenic mind. We feel her isolation. The mundane is amplified -the ticking of a clock, the sounds of the street outside, the toiling of the bell from the next door nunnery-and made to seem menacing. She is dependant on her sister to such an extent that when her sister goes to Italy on holiday, leaving her alone, she loses her lifeline on which to grasp for human contact. Her isolation is so intense that other people become a threat. Those who are a menace to her, such as her landlord, are treated in the same manner as those who wish her well, such as her boy friend. She can no longer tell the difference. The madness in her mind is made manifest on the screen: Huge cracks appear in the wall symbolising the cracks appearing in her mind. Hands come out of the wall and touch her. Her nightmares torment her with physical contact of men, the one thing that horrifies her, and which are made utterly believable by the vagueness of the camerawork and the silence on the soundtrack-how very much like a real nightmare. The structure of the film is marvellous, as is the cinematography. There is not a shot or a frame wasted as every scene, every shot, builds up to show Carol's loosening grasp of reality.
One of the greatest films of the 20th Century. On every level, this film not only works, but works brilliantly. Roman Polanski is a genius, and this film is his cinematic masterpiece.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A masterpiece!,
I've seen "Repulsion" quite a few times over the years, and it never gets any less absorbing to watch in spite of knowing the outcome.
Catherine Denueve is incandescently beautiful in it but this all masks her real persona which I guess is shown in the early photograph of her when she was just a child. The rest of her family, involved all together in the event of having their picture taken, but her, aloof, distant, in the background, staring into space, not really wanting to be a part of it. I think this showed a real understanding on the part of the director of the type of personality she had that would later erupt into murderous rage as a result of her paranoia and mental isolation. Sad. Disturbing. And quite possibly one of the most brilliant movies ever made.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Classic Polanski,
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This review is from: Repulsion [DVD]  (DVD)
Catherine Deneuve is brilliant in this early Roman Polanski psychological horror film. She plays Carol a young French woman living with a her sister in a small claustrophobic flat in London. She is socially awkward, mousy, emotionally repressed and quite clearly repulsed by anything and everything especially men. There is evidence of past possible sexual abuse. Carol's existence is alienated, sad and lonely. She seems to want to escape her world, even herself. Polanski's well thoughtout and meticulous attention to detail direction creates a frightening world relentlessly closing in on the terrified Carol. He uses sound to brilliant effect: water dripping, traffic outside, sudden ringing of telephone and doorbells to create and sense of claustrophia and this is heightened by the use of extreme close-ups. Much of the film is set in the small and cluttered flat in which it seems Carol's is constantly surrounded by closing in white walls and searing and glaring white light. Indeed Polanski's use of white light makes Carol look pale and ghostly and like a terrified deer in a powerful headlight. But it is the endless clock ticking that symbolises the timebomb of pent up rage within Carol...Polanski slowly builds the tension and suspense in his usual masterful way. If you are a fan of Polanski and indeed serious cinema then you should buy this. Those who want cheap thrills and instant gratification will be disappointed. A brilliant and atmospheric shocker.
17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Little known masterpiece,
There is so much in this film that is recommended, and I urge you to purchase it.
This film helped make the brilliant director Polanski and actress Catherine Denueve worldwide stars.
Set in 1960's London (Kensington?) the film deals with a beautiful but unbalanced young lady's (Denueve's Carol) descent from depression into madness. She becomes mentally unhinged when her sister leaves her alone for a week in a flat.
Even though this film is relatively low budget and does not have many special effects, the directors skill ensures this is a tense and often terrifying critique of madness.
Polanski does not waste a shot. He uses a number of interesting techniques to convey to the viewer the warped imagination of Carol and her isolation.
Denueve herself looks stunning. I have never seen a more beautiful actress then Deneuve in this film. Oh, and she is brilliant actress as well! There is not much dialogue in this film, but the viewer is kept interested by the intensity and reality of her acting.
1960's London and fashion in this film also look fantastic.
For me, it is a perfect film. I can find no fault in it, and I can not recommend it high enough. It is well worth five stars.
If you like this film, you should also watch Polanski's also excellent 'Rosemary's Baby' which has some similar themes.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great film about a descent into madness.,
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Polanski had only recently defected from Poland at the time of this film,and so his English wasn't as yet fluent.Similarly,Catherine Deneuve's English was a bit shaky,expalining this film's silences and use of tone and mood rather than dialogue to get the point across.
It's a great depiction of a descent into schizophrenia,admittedly not entirely as this would happen in real life,about fear of relationships(? fear of sex)and lonliness in a big city.
One of the other reviewers points out how hard it is to imagine Deneuve,who is gorgeous in this film,managing to avoid male attention till she turns 20.Still,Polanski manages to make it work well.
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An absolutely brilliant film, deeply disturbing,
It would not be a good idea to try to psychoanalyze Catherine Deneuve's character in this film. What director Roman Polanski has done is make a composite of a number of disorders and give them to Carole. She is a bit autistic in that she stares at cracks in the ground or at the shape of objects and is basically unsocial. She has a bit of a tic as might be found in say Tourette's syndrome as she rubs the right side of her nose sharply several times when perhaps she is nervous or unsure. She is catatonic at times and violently psychopathic. The repulsion she feels most strongly is toward men. They make her physically ill. She has nightmares and/or delusions or fantasies about being raped. She is reticent to an extreme. I doubt whether such a combination of behaviors actually exists in the DSM-IV, which of course was not yet in print when Polanski made this film.
I was tempted to title this review, "Catherine Deneuve as a slasher: a lesbian thriller," which is accurate to some extent, but it would be unfair to the movie to narrow it so. Carole (Deneuve at 21 or 22) is strikingly appealing despite the weirdly overdone blonde hair, and she is in nightgown for most of the last part of the film. But don't look for any nudity. Polanski concentrates on the horror angle throughout.
But this is a horror movie with artistic power. Instead of the woman alone in her apartment with tinkling music in the background as we wait for the monster who is to rape and murder her, we have Carole alone in her apartment with the madness in her mind and people wanting to get in to show her their love or to collect the overdue rent. Instead of us fearing for her safety, we fear for those who come into contact with her.
Polanski's direction is taunt, focused and filled with tension because we have no idea what is going to happen until the film is over. I liked the touch of having us hear the water drip. Somehow that sound, which we would only hear when everything is quiet and we (or she) are listening intently, heightened the tension and the sense of madness. I also liked the ending with all the neighbors nosily pouring into the apartment.
Deneuve's performance in this English language film set in London is one of her best without any doubt, and she has a very long line of credits. Everything is about her face and her body language. She even walks a bit awkwardly, and her countenance is anything but becoming and she seldom smiles. She does laugh once when a coworker tells her about a Charlie Chaplin movie--in fact she laughs uproariously--but Polanski does not give us a frontal shot of her face at that time. Mostly hers is a face filled with fear and apprehension. Her eyes dart about and her lips remain shut. She looks longingly out the window at the nuns and children in the church's playground next door. Perhaps she should have entered a convent. Perhaps, barring what really happens, she might have.
Of course the setup is not perfect. The very fact that Carole could be in her twenties and have gone so long without her symptoms leading to her incarceration is surprising. That she could have kept a job is also surprising. And how such a beautiful girl could have kept the boys and lechers at bay for so long is also a mystery. On the other hand it can be argued that the fact that she is left alone by her sister for a few days combined with the overly earnest advances of an insensitive man brought her to a crisis.
This is a deeply disturbing film done in a sparse and focused manner that will put you and keep you on the edge of your seat until "The End" appears on the screen, which it does.
(Note: Over 500 of my movie reviews are now available in my book "Cut to the Chaise Lounge or I Can't Believe I Swallowed the Remote!" Get it at Amazon.)
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A disturbing study of mental illness.,
This review is from: Repulsion [DVD]  (DVD)
A beautiful Belgian manicurist has serious mental health problems in sixties London. That is the premise for Polankski's harrowing and voyeuristic study of psychosis-related illness, and the more Carol's nightmare unravels, the more you are hooked into her story (despite, due to the films unremittingly realistic account of her problems, an at times intense feeling to look away, a feeling of skin-crawling repulsion).
The film is shot in black and white, and almost entirely parched of melodrama and dramatic elaboration. It is (surprisingly, given its vintage) an unflinching and realistic dissection of a young woman's turbulent emotions, as she gradually descends from social detachment into sexual paranoia, hallucinations and eventually psychotic madness. French actress Catherine Deneuve (Belle De Jour, Indochine) plays the lead to perfection -- pay attention to her body language and mannerisms, her facial expressions and ruffled hair and distant eyes -- and she does actually seem to be intensely in another world as she drifts distantly and further away from her life into seclusion -- where her problems intensify dramatically.
I suppose what makes this so disturbing to view is the helplessness you feel: in most other cases of the damsel in distress (be it from prostitution, drugs or an abusive partner) you keep watching in the hope there will be a solution to her downward spiral. With the enemy inside, though (and the knowledge that mental health care in the 1960s -- or even today -- wasn't likely to cure a person with her problems), there is little salvation in sight.
Needless to say this isn't a film to watch with your grandmother. It isn't something you will really "enjoy", but (I suppose in a similar manner to Schindler's List) it is something you will be glad you have seen.
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Criterion Collection: Repulsion [Blu-ray]  [US Import] by Roman Polanski (Blu-ray - 2009)
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