THE GIRL WEEK BLOGATHON: REPULSION [1965]

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My last two posts have had ladies starring (Brooklyn, Cemetery of Splendour) but this is my first post solely for Dell’s blogathon. Repulsion is a fine example of a leading lady really showing range not only in her acting, but in her character…

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The sound of a clock ticking has never sounded the same since I saw this movie….

Repulsion features the young and beautiful Catherine Deneuve in one of her most memorable roles, playing a frigid femme fatale who is the villain while also being a victim.

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Carol is such a unique and unforgettable character with an incredibly creative set of personality traits, and Polanski really hit the jackpot for his first English language film, scoring Deneuve shortly after she had made her breakthrough into film. She plays the absent-minded yet paranoid Carol to perfection, eyes suitably detached as she constantly floats away from reality.

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Deneuve plays the role masterfully and subtly, her eyes never seem to be focused on anything apart from when she talks to her sister or work-friend. The rest of the time they are looking at nothing in particular: in one memorable scene visually she stares blankly at her warped reflection coming from a round kettle; the warped image of her suitably matching the state of mind she is descending into. For the last ten minutes though her eyes suddenly focus, as if she has suddenly realised her inner psychopath and detached from reality completely.

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Which is what happens, Carol truly loses touch with reality completely, but Polanski expertly leaves some key scenes in the background, leaving it to our imagination to wonder just what exactly happens at the end. After a truly creepy final act, this ambiguous ending is the perfect way to end this extremely unsettling film.

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Carol is a truly unforgettable lead character as she is shy yet violent, detached from reality even when going into work and when talking to her sister. And of course we can’t forget the rape fantasies, which just put this film in a league of its own when it comes to messed up subject matter. At first they seem like nightmares but by the end of the film it is clear that these are fantasies. Which makes her character even more interesting, as she dreams of being taken advantage of, while in reality she is taking advantage of men, whether she realises it or not.

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Repulsion is a one of a kind film, I cannot think of anything close to its unique combination that creates this fascinating character of Carol. Not to mention the apartment itself, which is the second best character in the film; claustrophobic and only feeding into Carol’s obvious problems. Say what you will about Polanski, but he knows how to direct a leading lady, perfectly demonstrated here, as well as in Rosemary’s Baby, Tess, and also his most recent film, Venus In Fur. He also has created some strong female supporting characters, most notably in The Ninth Gate. In my eyes though none of these characters come close to Denueve’s Carol, a femme fatale yet at the same time a victim; an almost unwilling villain.

Is that a clock I can hear ticking?…