RAPTURE (1965)

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DVD REVIEW: RAPTURE / CERT: 12 / DIRECTOR: JOHN GUILLERMIN / SCREENPLAY: STANLEY MANN / STARRING: PATRICIA GOZZI, MELVYN DOUGLAS, DEAN STOCKWELL, GUNNEL LINDBLOM / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW

John Guillermin’s coming-of-age love story involves a most unusual case of mistaken identity when handsome young escaped convicted Joseph (Stockwell, before his time-travelling and space adventures) is fancifully assumed by fey farm-girl Agnes (Gozzi) to be her scarecrow come to life.

All is not well in Agnes' remote homestead. The silent expressions of the characters in the opening shots signal an oppressive tension, a storm front that lingers threateningly on the horizon. Guillermin fills his drama with a disquieting atmosphere to match his provocative themes – the young Agnes lusting after Joseph; comely housekeeper Karen’s (Lindblom) lover sneaking into her room late at night, leading to blackmail; the harbouring of a fugitive and a father’s distant relationship with his daughter. But all this is offset with an affection, compassion and thoughtfulness, and under Guillermin’s directorial eye, Rapture becomes a chamber drama of light and shadow. It moves at an assured pace, signalling Guillermin’s own self-confidence in the era of the titans of the Nouvelle Vague.

You see in the movie shades of Polanski’s early suspenseful works (Knife in the Water and Repulsion), and the iconic wandering women who are the core of the filmic worlds of Alain Resnais and Michelangelo Antonioni. The coastal setting pictorially frames Agnes as living on the edge of her world, and despite a desire to control and shape it, she is forced to dwell on the divide between fantasy and reality. In a way, she's almost like Antoine Doinel’s (The 400 Blows) better half – the two iconic young dreamers of '60s cinema who share an intimate encounter with the coastline.

Extras: Audio commentary Julie Kirgo and Nick Redmon / Booklet


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