"I must get this crack mended."
What a thankless task Catherine Deneuve is given in Repulsion. With little dialogue, she is asked to convey a looming madness and a full-fledged descent into hell, all while maintaining an expressionless, almost plasticine visage. Few actresses could pull off such a task, but Deneuve does so effortlessly. The slightly placid, slightly dazed, slightly worried mask she wears makes Repulsion all the creepier--is there nothing going on behind those eyes, or more than we can imagine? Polanski's clever direction and sense of lighting, angles and space only enhance the unsettled mood. His film moves slowly, deliberately, quietly--and the serenity is highly unsettling. While Polanski would handle similar material at an even higher level three years later with Rosemary's Baby, Repulsion is much more than just a dry run. Plaster cracks, hands grow out of walls to grope and grab, and even the most benign visitor becomes a spectre of evil. Rarely has the maddening effect of loneliness and sexual repression been expressed so quietly--and so creepily.