REPULSION (Roman Polanski, 1965)
323 Sixth Ave. at West Third St.
Series runs June 13-19
In 1965, Polish-French auteur Roman Polanski followed his Oscar-nominated debut feature, Knife in the Water, with his first English-language film, the psychological masterpiece Repulsion. Catherine Deneuve gives a mesmerizing performance as Carol Ledoux, a deeply troubled, beautiful young woman who shies away from the world, hiding something that has turned her into a frightened childlike creature who barely speaks. A manicurist who lives in London with her sister, Hélène (Yvonne Furneaux), Carol becomes entranced by cracks in the sidewalk, suddenly going nearly catatonic at their sight; in bed at night, she is terrified of the walls, which seem to break apart as she grips tight to the covers. A proper gentleman (John Fraser) is trying to start a relationship with her, but she ignores him or forgets about their meetings, unable to make any genuine connections. Deneuve’s every movement, from the blink of an eye to a wave of her hand, reveals Carol’s submerged inner turmoil and desperation, leading to an ending that is both shocking and not surprising. Shot in a creepy black-and-white by Gilbert Taylor (A Hard Day’s Night, Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb) and featuring a pulsating score by jazz legend Chico Hamilton, Repulsion is a brilliant journey into the limitations and possibilities of the human mind, with Polanski expertly navigating through a complex terrain. Winner of a pair of awards at the fifteenth Berlin International Film Festival, Repulsion, the first of Polanski’s Apartment Trilogy (followed by 1968’s Rosemary’s Baby and 1976’s The Tenant), is being shown in a 35mm print June 13-16 as part of the IFC Center series “The Fearless Roman Polanski,” which runs June 13-19 and also includes such diverse films by the immensely talented, controversial director as Chinatown, The Fearless Vampire Killers, Knife in the Water, Macbeth, Tess, Cul-De-Sac, Oliver Twist, The Pianist, Rosemary’s Baby, The Tenant, and the rarely screened Weekend of a Champion, leading up to the June 20 theatrical release of his latest masterwork, Venus in Fur.