Repertory Picks

Late-Night Polanski in Florida

This coming Saturday, as part of its weekly late-night program After Hours, Florida’s Coral Gables Art Cinema will cede the big screen to Roman Polanski’s descent-into-madness classic Repulsion. The thirty-year-old Polanski won worldwide acclaim with his debut feature, the Oscar-nominated thriller Knife in the Water (1962). But it was the Polish filmmaker’s even tenser 1965 follow-up, Repulsion—his English-language breakthrough, and the first of three films he would make in the UK—that truly established his reputation as a master of psychological horror. Catherine Deneuve delivers one of her most intense performances as Carol, a young woman who, holing up in a London flat after her sister goes on vacation, begins to lose her already tenuous grip on sanity. Instead of analyzing the heroine’s mounting sense of terror, Polanski gradually inhabits her point of view, employing surreal dream imagery and extreme close-ups to emphasize the hostile encroachment of her surroundings. As Bill Horrigan observes in the essay included in our release of the film, “Repulsion is filmmaking strictly in the present tense,” unsettling for the immediacy with which it depicts its protagonist’s violent downward spiral.

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