Repulsion | Movie Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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Directed by Roman Polanski and written by Polanski and Gerard Brach, this 1965 character study is a fascinating conflation of the perspective of a woman on men and the perspectives of men--including Polanski and Brach--on a woman. Catherine Deneuve gives an almost silent performance as Carol, a manicurist who grew up in Brussels and lives in London with her older sister. The sister's affair with a man who frequently spends the night at their apartment encroaches on the relationship between the two women--from Carol's point of view--and she anticipates with dread a ten-day trip the couple will make, leaving her to fend for herself. Men's reactions to her--her sister's boyfriend's crush on her is a powerful subtext--become confused in Carol's mind with hallucinations in which male figures and more abstract sexual symbols both terrorize and stimulate her. The story seems dated and at times unintentionally humorous because so many of its motifs have been used elsewhere, but Carol's response to her confusion about her own and others' sexual motives, with its thriller and incipient slasher elements, remains a startling interrogation of stereotypical male behavior and female reactions to it. Music Box, Friday through Thursday, October 3 through 9.

--Lisa Alspector

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): film still.

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