Repulsion (1965), directed by Roman Polanski

Since I saw the video by The Cardigans I mentioned in the earlier blog post, I got fascinated by the movie it alluded to: Repulsion. So I rented the movie to figure out in what extend the video was indeed a good “wink” towards it, and although I wanted to know what kind of psychological thriller it was. A bloody one, I know now.

I know French actress Catherine Deneuve, but never saw a movie from early on in her career. Even though her acting here, dialogue I mean, is not that good in my eyes – she portrayed the “closed off of reality” of the character very well.
The movie tells the story of a Belgian girl named Carol, who lives with her sister in a flat in London. She works in a beauty centre. Besides her sister and her work, she doesn’t seem interested in anything. She often seems stuck in daydreams, looking out into nothing. As if she is stuck in another place, not entirely there.
Colin, a man who has shown interest in her, can’t seem to get through to her. She holds him off every time he wants to get close. On one occasion she is physically repulsed by his touch and kiss.
Her sister is about to leave for a week with her lover, which Carol doesn’t like at all. She dislikes the fact he stays over and them making love, keeps her up at night. Being alone for a week does not please her at all. From the moment her sister and lover leave, she closes herself off from the world. She locks herself up in the apartment, starts to live in a mess from then on, has violent sexual dreams and often hallucinated that the apartment is falling to pieces. Huge cracks in the wall seem and the ceiling seems to be falling down on her. But it’s all in her head. It is clear that the girl is psychologically ill.
Colin, after getting no reply to his many phone calls, is worried and decides to go to the flat. He knows she’s in there, but she does not open the door. He bursts in to find her just standing there. He declares his love for her, while all she wants him to do is leave. Seeing he won’t, she hits him – and kills him.
When later her landlord comes demanding after the rent, due by her sister. He sees what a pretty girl she is, living in such filth. He starts to charm her up and forces himself upon her. She has to defend herself and kills him as well.
As her sister returns from the Italian vacation, she is shocked to find this awful scene. Carol, totally lost, in a catatonic state.
I know it’s silly to admit it, but frankly, I got scared at some parts in the movie. ridiculous really. Because most things are alluded. When Carol goes to her sister’s closet, to try on one of the dresses while her sister is away, we see a reflection in the closet’s mirror of a man standing in the room as she closes the door. It gave me such an awful scare! The thing is, the movie is build on suspense. Minutes can go by without music or complicated shots. Just Carol walking through the flat… and bam, the thundering sound of the wall cracking open, or hand coming out of the walls… if that doesn’t make you squeal out just a little, you are braver than me.
From the opening shot of the movie, you get such a creepy, tingly sensation. You see only her right eye. A huge eye. And it all comes down to her eyes. So empty on such a beautiful face.
I’m not very much for scary movies or thrillers of this kind. This one was very good. But why oh why do I always watch these movies alone, when I know I can’t stand it.
I did notice a mistake. The second time we see Carol come home, we see her taking off her shoes and flicking them into her room. On her bare feet she walks over to the window and then heads for the bathroom. After a closeup to her face, we get a wide shot taken from on the floor and there she has her shoes on again. That can’t be! She had taken them off!
I think that The Cardigans’ video is not that badly done when compared to the movie. Some of the ticks of Carol are nicely copied. The way she blinks out sometimes, how she rubs her nose almost rodent like, brushing off imaginary dirt of her clothes… but the eeriness still gives me goosebumps.

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