Thursday, July 30, 2009

Polanski's Horror Show

ImageRepulsion (Criterion Blu-ray)

Roman Polanski’s first English-language film about the mental disintegration of a young woman, doesn’t make much sense or have a much psychological authenticity, but it’s been filmed with such stylish bravado and superior technique that you’ll be too busy on the edge of your seat to carp about such things until it’s over. Polanski brilliantly uses the blank-slate beauty of Catherine Deneuve as the disturbing anti-heroine, with chilling and discomfiting results. Polanski would later prove his mastery of more subtly astute psychological horror in Rosemary’s Baby and Chinatown, but Repulsion showed that his genius at building an atmosphere of dread in his first feature, Knife in the Water, was no fluke. Criterion’s Blu-ray transfer makes this already visually superlative film even more brilliant, with the Gilbert Taylor’s stunning B&W photography seeming to analyze the minutest detail of Deneuve’s face. The extras include a Polanski and Deneuve commentary and a retrospective making-of featurette.

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