Thursday, 13 January 2011


Carol is a beautiful young girl who works as a manicurist at a London beauty salon. She shares a flat with her sister Helen who’s lover Michael frequently intrudes to whom Carol shows a dislike to. A young man named Colin spots Carol when she is on a lunch break and asks her to have dinner with him, but her inability to voice her disgust towards men causes her to be impossible. When Helen leaves Carol on her own to go on holiday with Michael, Carol begins to succumb to madness, hallucinating about fantasies of seduction and rape.

Polanksi masters the use of visuals and sound working together in harmony to create the feeling of Carol’s mind set for the audience. At the beginning of the film the audio of Carol walking through the 60’s streets of London is upbeat and Jazzy but as Carol begins to fall into her mental breakdown this Jazzy soundtrack is substituted for sudden percussions as she scratches her face and body. Within the apartment combining the visuals and audio it produces a huge claustrophobic feeling, constant dripping of water and sirens outside build undeniable tension  to which the church bell rings and forces a hallucination. These hallucinations are in the form of a figure terrorising Carol in efforts to rape her, these scenes feel helpless, there isn’t screaming and feels as if we are watching from a window and we can’t help her. Gonzalez Jr. also comments on the fantastic combination of audio/visual writing in his review “Part of what makes "Repulsion" such a deeply affecting work is Polanski's mastery of sound and visuals to convey Carol's fragile mental state. He intensifies her isolation by heightening the claustrophobia of her apartment and its immediate surroundings. Cracks on the wall, shadows, the sound of water dripping, sirens outside, and church bells across the street conspire in a frightening eruption of banal but relentlessly unnerving signals of entrapment.” (Gonzalez Jr. , 2009)

Sorrento believes that the role of Carol was an extremely difficult part to pull off needing a lot of courage and commitment “ Producers took to Polanski’s concept of a simple horror film, essentially a one-woman show. Such an actor-focused project would be hard for any performer to turn down, and thus a young Catherine Deneuve was thrilled to take the lead. It was a ballsy role in which young woman would be transformed into a domestic psychotic. The film was Deneuve’s first step in developing her signature style, an alluring yet cold presence, and a practicing ground for Bunuel’s chilling Belle de Jour.” (Sorrento, 2009) Deneuve’s performance as Carol is excellent, in where the audience is introduced to her right eye in an extreme close up shot to which at a first introduction is believed to be a daydreamer in her work but later on uncovered to be her lost in her own mind. Deneuve works well to produce the itching and uncomfortable movements that Carol makes as she walks down the street. The harmless beginning of the scene in which she irons the vest top turns disturbing as the camera follows the lead slowly to the floor to reveal that it isn’t even plugged in, Deneuve produces a cold performance as she whistles away sweetly.

The camera plays an important role in releasing specific details, inflicting moods and focusing on plot features. Cracks become more and more prominent in the breakdown of Carol’s mental state, at the beginning there is the shot in the kitchen and then leading up to the finale the walls crack open easily mimicking her state as being fragile. There is also a family photo which constantly finds itself as the centre of attention for the camera and giving a hint as to the true nature of Carol as in the photo her sister sits engaged with the family where as Carol coldly stares away into the distance. Levy comments on the camera usage by saying “Early on a reference is made to a crack in the plasterwork of the kitchen wall, and we know it's only a matter of time before Helen would be seeing other cracks.  Using sharp, high-angle shots, it often seems as if the ceilings are looking at Carol.  Polanksi's restless camera tracks around the apartment, registering minute details, all of which later feature prominently in the plot.
 Almost every detail or image counts, such a recurrent shot of an old family photo, which is revelatory in meaning.  In it, we observe Helen as a child leaning against her father's knee, while youngster sister Carol stands a little aloof, staring away from the family.” (Levy, 2009)

Repulsion is a truly horrifying film where Polanksi has used an excellent combination of sound and visual to bring out the horror of the characters situation. Decay is a prominent feature of the visuals which connects to the decaying mental state of Carol accompanied with many other hallucinations and visuals.


Felix Gonzalez Jr. , 5 August 2009, Repulsion Review

Matthew Sorrento, 29 July, 2009, Repulsion review

Emanuel Levy, 25 July 2009, Repulsion Reviw


Movie Poster -

Hallucinatory rape scene -

Carol -

Close up of Carol in the family photo -

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