Repulsion (1965)

repulsion poster 1965 movie roman polanski
9.0 Overall Score
Story: 9/10
Acting: 10/10
Visuals: 9/10

Great acting, great looking

Tough movie to watch

Movie Info

Movie Name:   Repulsion

Studio:  Compton Films

Genre(s):   Horror/Drama

Release Date(s):   June 11, 1965

MPAA Rating:   Not Rated

repulsion hands in wall catherine deneuve

Pretty much happens every day…right?

A young manicurist living in London is spinning out of control.  Belgian Carol Ledoux (Catherine Deneuve) lives with her sister Helen (Yvonne Furneaux), but her mind is elsewhere.  Resenting her sister’s boyfriend Michael (Ian Hendry) and turning away a suitor named Colin (John Fraser), Carol seems to sleepwalk through life with a distain and fear of men who are drawn to her.  When Helen and Michael take a trip to Rome and leave Carol alone, Carol’s world breaks…and death follows.

Written and directed by Roman Polanski (with additional writing by Gerard Brach and David Stone), Repulsion is a psychological horror thriller.  The film was released to critical acclaim and Polanski’s second feature length film (his first in English).  The Criterion Collection released a remastered version of Repulsion (Criterion #483).

Repulsion is one of those movies that you watch and kind of feel bad.  It is a great film, but you feel bad for the characters, the situation, and everything that occurs.  Despite this both Polanski and Deneuve deliver a great film that feels really different.

repulsion landlord patrick wynmark catherine deneuve

Nope….not a creeper here or anything

Watching Repulsion today, you see a mentally ill girl slipping away (despite some help).  Everyone just labels her as “sad” or “depressed”, but they don’t take it seriously, and the character cracks.  It is something that is always discussed and talked about in today’s society with mass shooting, etc.  I could easily see this character having a very different break in today’s society which would cost even more lives.  There is an implication of sexual abuse in her background (the picture at the end has her staring with venom at someone who is likely her father) and it feels like something spurred this fracture in her psyche…which was brought on by the pressure of her sister’s boyfriend and the suitor.

Catherine Deneuve is a great choice because of her beauty.  She attracts men despite her mousy behavior.  It also goes into the whole idea of that mental illness isn’t regulated to the poor or “unattractive”…anyone can have mental problems.  People react to stress, pressure, and threats in different ways and Deneuve gives it all with her performance.

repulsion razor catherine deneuve

Hi…meet my razor!

The black-and-white film gives it a real starkness.  Polanski has a lot of fun playing with light and shadows and this combines with great cinematography that boosts the horror of the situation.  Scenes the hands coming out of the walls or Deneuve’s hand slowly sliding out from under her sister’s bed are great moments of terror.

Repulsion is a great thriller and well done.  The movie is considered the first film in Polanski’s “apartment” trilogy which also includes Rosemary’s Baby (1968) and The Tenant (1976).  The movie feels like a real spiritual sequel to something like Hitchcock’s Psycho and it is interesting to see a killer who is a woman.  Seek out Repulsion, but you might leave with a knot in your stomach.  Polanski followed Repulsion with Cul-de-Sac in 1966.

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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