Attempting to combine a coming-of-age story within the confines of an art film, John Guillermin’s Rapture is a noble experiment but an ultimate failure. With a handful of unappealing characters making a continuous string of ludicrous decisions, Rapture tries one’s patience continually, the lugubrious story and halting direction preventing it from attaining the affecting pathos it so desperately seeks. It’s beautifully filmed, and there is some sensitive acting on display, but it all amounts to a very bleak little.
Directed by John Guillermin
Studio: Twilight Time (Fox)
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1 1080p AVC codec
Running Time: 104 minutes
Audio: DTS-HD Master Audio 1.0 English
Region: none designated
MSRP: $ 29.95
Release Date: December 13, 2011
Review Date: December 5, 2011
Widower Frederick Larbaud (Melvyn Douglas) is a cold, emotionless cipher since the death of his beloved wife, but he’s saddled with a mentally unbalanced daughter Agnes (Patricia Gozzi) whom he refuses to institutionalize. When Joseph (Dean Stockwell), an escaped prisoner, winds up in their shed while the police are still actively looking for him, Frederick, Agnes, and the family housekeeper Karen (Gunnel Lindblom) all take pains to keep him hidden from discovery. Joseph’s presence in the household, however, has an unsettling effect on it making both women vie for his attention while Larbaud does all he can to prevent his sensitive daughter from becoming involved with a convict.
With the mentally troubled Agnes believing for at least half of the film that Joseph is her garden scarecrow come to life, it’s a mighty quick transition to womanhood for her via Stanley Mann’s rather uneven script. There are echoes of Lawrence’s The Fox here as well as a scenario that suggest Pasolini’s Teorema which would come along three years later (but without the controversial overt sexuality in that baroque melodrama). The characters all behave in rather unrealistic ways seeing as how Joseph is on the lam (a wanted felon in whose escape from the police the charge of manslaughter has been added), and yet one or more of them keep going out into the open with him, and he keeps returning to the Larbaud house after several getaways and his continual refusal to acknowledge Agnes’ mental incapacity. The film is at least half an hour too long for the tale it’s telling, and John Guillermin’s direction, while sometimes inventively tilting the camera to emphasize Agnes’ unstable view of the world or using quick cuts to point up her ultimate confusion in any situation away from home, stretches some scenes out to the point of tedium.
The three leading actors all etch strong character portraits even when their actions often make watching them something of a chore. Melvyn Douglas is as cold and implacable as ice but certainly authoritative as the head of the household. Patricia Gozzi is completely convincing as the scattered, troubled Agnes dreamily insistent that Joseph is her scarecrow come to life and her own private possession. Dean Stockwell has seldom exuded more sex appeal as the wayward Joseph making his allure to both of the women on the homestead completely understandable. Gunnel Lindblom as the sex-driven housekeeper Karen completes the household quartet in a believable performance. Sylvia Kay as Frederick’s selfish, demanding older daughter brays her lines with the best of them.
The film’s Cinemascope aspect ratio of 2.35:1 is faithfully delivered in a 1080p transfer using the AVC codec. Sharpness is startlingly good in this transfer with not a hint of any motion or age-related artifacts spoiling the pristine picture quality. While black levels aren’t the deepest they could be, the excellent contrast level dials in an appealing grayscale rendering that is most impressive. The film has been divided into chapters every ten minutes so there are 11 chapters.
The DTS-HD Master Audio 1.0 sound mix has some slight hiss on occasion, but it’s mostly an excellent sound rendering of this mono mix which is very typical of its era. There is a great deal of ADR-produced dialogue, and for the most part, it mixes almost unnoticeably with the direct dialogue recording. Only on occasion will the listener notice a somewhat airless, slightly lower-in-volume substitution. Georges Delerue’s lovely score, often at ironic odds with what we’re seeing on screen, reproduces nicely in the mix with the dialogue and ambient effects.
The isolated score track presents the delicate, luscious Georges Delerue music in an entertaining stereo mix which will delight fans of the French composer.
Though the screener copy of Rapture sent for review did not contain the usual Twilight Time booklet, the SAE website indicates that the booklet with film historian Julie Kirgo’s always interesting liner notes will be included for purchasers of the Blu-ray release.
3/5 (not an average)
As part of Twilight Time’s limited availability program, only 3,000 copies of Rapture are available. Those interested in experiencing this little-seen melodrama with some outstanding performances trapped in a somewhat unappealing story should hop to www.screenarchives.com to see if copies are still available. They're also available via Facebook at www.facebook.com/twilighttimemovies .