Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Roman Polanski|
|Produced by||Gene Gutowski|
|Screenplay by||David Stone|
|Story by||Roman Polanski
|Music by||Chico Hamilton|
|Editing by||Alastair McIntyre|
|Distributed by||Compton Films|
|Running time||105 minutes|
Repulsion is a 1965 British psychological horror film directed by Roman Polanski, based on a scenario by Gérard Brach and Roman Polanski. It was Polanski's first English language film, and was shot in London, making it his first feature made outside Poland. The cast includes Catherine Deneuve, Ian Hendry, John Fraser and Yvonne Furneaux.
Carol Ledoux (Catherine Deneuve), a Belgian manicurist who bites her nails, lives in Kensington, London, with her older sister Helen (Yvonne Furneaux). Carol practically sleepwalks through her days, and interacts awkwardly with men. A would-be suitor, Colin (John Fraser), is flummoxed by her behaviour and she rebuffs his advances, disgusted by them. She hides her head in her pillow against her sister's cries of sexual pleasure with her married boyfriend, Michael (Ian Hendry). When Helen leaves on a holiday to Italy with Michael, Carol appears even more distracted at work, gets sent home, stays in the apartment, leaves a raw, skinned rabbit out to rot, and begins to hallucinate, first seeing the walls cracking, a man breaking in and molesting her, then hands reaching out to grab and attack her. Colin breaks into her apartment when she refuses to acknowledge his adoration and he apologizes for his transgression. When he says he wants to "be with" her "all the time," she bludgeons him to death with a candlestick, dumps the body into the overflowing bathtub, and nails the broken door shut. Later, the imperious landlord (Patrick Wymark) breaks in, looking for the late rent payment. Carol pays him and sits on the sofa, staring into space. He remarks on the decaying state of the apartment, and attempts to ingratiate himself by bringing her a glass of water as he leers at her in her nightgown. When he first propositions her, then sexually assaults her, she gets away. But he comes at her again and she slashes him to death with a straight razor.
When Helen and Michael return, they discover the dead bodies. Michael runs for help. Helen, distraught, finds Carol hiding under the bed in a catatonic state. Neighbors arrive -- curious, concerned and shocked. Michael returns and carries Carol out, staring creepily at her wide-open eye, face and body. A family photograph on the mantel shows Carol as a girl, turned towards a male figure in the photograph with a look that could kill.
- Catherine Deneuve as Carole/Carol Ledoux
- Yvonne Furneaux as Hélène/Helen Ledoux
- Ian Hendry as Michael
- John Fraser as Colin
- Patrick Wymark as Landlord
- Kallie Bush as Miss Balch
- Valerie Taylor as Madame Denise
- James Villiers as John
- Helen Fraser as Bridget
- Hugh Futcher as Reggie
- Monica Merlin as Mrs. Rendlesham
- Imogen Graham as Manicurist
- Mike Pratt as Workman
Themes and style 
The movie vaguely suggests that her father may have sexually abused her as a child, which is the basis of her neuroses and breakdown. It could also be argued that this mental anguish stems from the love she never got from Michael, who preferred her sister.
Critical response 
Repulsion is widely considered a classic of the psychological thriller genre. Review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes reports that 100% of 48 film critics have given the film a positive review, with a rating average of 8.8 out of 10. Metacritic, which assigns a weighted average score out of 100 to reviews from mainstream critics, gives the film a score of 91 based on 7 reviews.
Film critic Bosley Crowther of The New York Times gave the film a positive review stating, "An absolute knockout of a movie in the psychological horror line has been accomplished by Roman Polanski in his first English-language film." Jim Emerson, filling in for Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times, included the film in his list entitled "102 Movies You Must See Before...".
Upon the film's release to DVD, Dave Kehr reviewed the film for The New York Times praising the film's techniques and themes, saying "Mr. Polanski uses slow camera movements, a soundtrack carefully composed of distracting, repetitive noises (clocks ticking, bells ringing, hearts thumping) and, once Carol barricades herself in the cramped, dark apartment, explicitly expressionistic effects (cracks suddenly ripping through walls, rough hands reaching out of the darkness to grope her) to depict a plausible schizophrenic episode."
At the 15th Berlin International Film Festival in 1965, Repulsion won both the FIPRESCI Prize and the Silver Berlin Bear-Extraordinary Jury Prize. The film was also nominated for a BAFTA in Best Black and White Cinematography.
The film paved the way for Polanski's entry into the cinemas of Western Europe and drew attention to Catherine Deneuve with her performance.
The film has also been the source of inspiration for many films and music videos throughout the years:
- π (1998) and Black Swan (2010), both by director Darren Aronofsky, allude to the film's themes and visuals.
- May (2002), by Lucky McKee, was heavily influenced by the film and has a similar motif of the protagonist's apartment mirroring her mental state.
- Scissors (1991), by Frank De Felitta and starring Sharon Stone as a paranoid woman trapped in a mysterious apartment.
- Music videos for The Cardigans' "Hanging Around" and Metric's "Monster Hospital" were directly inspired by the film.
Home media 
In 2009, the film was released as a part of the Criterion Collection on DVD and Blu-ray. Both releases contain two documentary featurettes, audio commentary by Roman Polanski and Catherine Deneuve, original trailers, and a 16-page booklet.
- "Combustible Celluloid film review - Repulsion (1965), Roman Polanski, Catherine Deneuve, Ian Hendry, dvd review". combustiblecelluloid.com. Retrieved 2011-08-22.
- "Wettbewerb/In Competition". Moving Pictures, Berlinale Extra (Berlin): p.38. 11–22 February 1998.
- "Repulsion – Rotten Tomatoes". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 9 December 2012.
- "Repulsion (re-release)". Metacritic. Retrieved 9 December 2012.
- Crowther, Bosley (4 October 1965). "Movie Review – Repulsion". The New York Times. Retrieved 9 December 2012.
- Emerson, Jim (20 April 2006). "102 Movies You Must See Before...". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved 9 December 2012.
- Kehr, Dave (22 July 2009). "A Woman Repulsed, a Man Convulsed". The New York Times. Retrieved 9 December 2012.
- "Berlinale 1965: Prize Winners". berlinale.de. Retrieved 2010-02-21.
- "BAFTA Film Nominations – 1965". British Academy Film Awards. Retrieved 9 December 2012.
- Orr, John; Ostrowska, Elżbieta (2006). The Cinema of Roman Polanski. Wallflower Press. p. 122.
- "Distant Relatives: Repulsion and Black Swan". Blogspot. 30 December 2010. Retrieved 9 December 2012.
- Tobias, Scott (7 July 2011). "The New Cult Canon – May". The A.V. Club. Retrieved 9 December 2012.
- "The Cardigans - HANGING AROUND (Repulsion) video". NME. Retrieved 9 December 2012.
- Thill, Scott (15 October 2008). "October Rocks: Metric’s ‘Monster Hospital’ Resuscitates Repulsion". Wired. Retrieved 9 December 2012.
- Atanasov, Svet (10 July 2009). "Repulsion Blu-ray Review". Blu-ray.com. Retrieved 9 December 2012.
- Repulsion at the Internet Movie Database
- Repulsion at AllRovi
- Repulsion at Rotten Tomatoes
- BFI gallery
- Images from the movie
- Review 2010