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New Line Home Cinema presents
The Rapture (1991)

"I need a new direction in my life. There is a God. I know it. There is a God, and I'm going to meet Him."
- Sharon (Mimi Rogers)

Review By: Nate Meyers  
Published: November 01, 2004

Stars: Mimi Rogers
Other Stars: David Duchovny, Kimberly Cullum, Patrick Bauchau, Will Patton, Carole Davis, James Le Gros, Stephanie Menuez, Darwyn Carson, Terri Hanauer, Douglas Roberts, Christian Belnavis, DéVaughn Nixon, Danny Pierce
Director: Michael Tolkin

MPAA Rating: R for strong sensuality, some language, some violence
Run Time: 01h:40m:08s
Release Date: November 02, 2004
UPC: 794043490828
Genre: drama


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
A- A+AA B-

DVD Review

Religious movies are often thought of as bloated epics from the 1960s where Jesus is a blonde-haired, blue-eyed WASP. Obviously this view has credence, but there are exceptions to this rule. Imagine, for a minute, a religious film that begins with a bored, contemporary woman who engages in wild orgies after work. Then, imagine further, that this woman joins a fundamentalist, apocalyptic form of Christianity. Now just have a little bit of faith that this all happens in the first act.

Writer-director Michael Tolkin's The Rapture is a deeply religious film that is as likely to offend the devout as it would an atheist. It asks questions that are seldom asked in film, and it even has the certitude to give answers. There's an unease that runs throughout the film's 100-minute running time, beginning with Thomas Newman's haunting score that plays over the opening shot of telephone operators working in their cubicles. One such worker is Sharon (Mimi Rogers), who answers her calls and connects the other end to some city with a melancholic disposition.

After work, Sharon lights up her cigarette and cruises around town with Vic (Patrick Bauchau). The two scope out couples they will seduce into a night of sex. They settle on Randy (David Duchovny) and his date. There's a coldness to the performances at the beginning that could be considered bad acting, but what Tolkin and his actors are going for is a subtle depiction of spiritual detachment. Sharon and Randy become lovers, even as she continues to engage in orgies with Vic and other couples. But she's missing something.

At work, Sharon overhears some of her co-workers talking about the end of the world. At first she does what most people would do: she ignores it. But perceived messages, perhaps from God, keep arising. One night, during an orgy, she takes notice of a girl's tattoo. The girl, Angie (Carole Davis), assures Sharon that it is meaningless, but Sharon believes that the pearl in the tattoo means something. Shortly after this encounter, Sharon falls apart and seeks change. Vic and Randy think she has gone nuts, but she becomes an avid follower of Jesus and starts attending her co-worker's religious meetings as they await the coming apocalypse.

To be honest, if the story of Sharon and her congregation was a news story, most people would shrug them off as religious zealots. After all, what can a person know about God's plan for Judgment? The most amazing thing about Tolkin's script is that it doesn't condescend to Sharon. She is a real human being, full of life, hope, and intelligence. In fact, Christians might actually appreciate the fact that the film depicts her life as being better once she finds Jesus. The film is full of twists that keep the viewer wondering how far Tolkin is willing to go with this story; after all, it's not like the Apocalypse is really going to come, right?

Once Sharon finds her inner peace, she is able to spread the Good Word to Randy, who converts, and the two live the perfect marriage. The film moves forward in time six years, where Randy and Sharon have a beautiful daughter, Mary (Kimberly Cullum). As they attend church, their prophet, called The Boy (Christian Belnavis), predicts that the Apocalypse is upon them. Not long after this, a horrible event shatters Sharon's family, causing her to take Mary out to the desert after she thinks God has sent her a message to await Him there for the Rapture. What happens in the desert cannot be revealed in a review, but it is unbelievably powerful. The desperation of Sharon and Mary is as heartbreaking as it is riveting. Never before has there been a religious film that challenges its audience quite like this.

The success of this film largely hinges on the acting and the script. Tolkin, who wrote The Player, comes through in spades as both first-time director and as the screenwriter. The dialogue has a freshness and a reverent quality to it at all times, making the film neither secular nor overtly religious. Mimi Rogers' performance as Sharon is a revelation. It would be easy to over-act Sharon's transformation from nihilist nymphomaniac to Christian zealot, but she manages to make it work. Patrick Bauchau provides elegant supporting work as the material, narcissistic Vic. However, the most impressive performance of the bunch is little Kimberly Cullum as Mary. Child actors are almost always adorable, but hardly ever believable. Cullum manages to be both, which makes the final 30 minutes absolutely nerve-wracking. Duchovny's work here suffers in comparison to the other cast members, but he still accomplishes the goal of playing Sharon's spouse.

Complimenting the elegant script and powerful acting is excellent filmmaking. Bojan Bazelli's cinematography beautifully captures each scene. Whether it is the harsh reality of Los Angeles, Sharon's newfound peace in suburbia, or the barren desert, the camerawork and lighting underscore every note to heighten the film's overall effect. Just as impressive is the score by Thomas Newman, which could just as easily find its home in a horror film. But the person deserving of the most credit for this film is Tolkin.

Most directors would not have the courage to make this film the way Tolkin made it. It would have been nice if he had had a larger budget to work with, but it's probably for the best that The Rapture was made as an independent film (after all, most likely the only way a major studio would have backed this is if the script had been changed entirely). What Tolkin has given to his audience is a powerful piece of drama that never flinches in the face of political correctness or controversy. His pursuit is the truth and it appears that he has found some measure of it here. It's tough to imagine anyone, theist or atheist, leaving this film without being stirred spiritually.

Rating for Style: A-
Rating for Substance: A+

 

Image Transfer

 One
Aspect Ratio1.85:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes
Anamorphicyes


Image Transfer Review: New Line continues its impressive standard of quality image transfers with this RSDL anamorphic widescreen presentation. Shown in the original 1.85:1 aspect ratio, The Rapture looks very nice. This appears to be an excellent presentation of a more obscure catalogue title, with no grain or print defects occurring. Colors, especially the reds in the hotel scene, look fantastically vibrant. The barren, bleached cinematography of the desert scenes is also well-handled here, helping to enhance the effect of the film. Detail, fleshtones, and contrast are all solid. Blacks look good, but the overall depth to the image is not spectacular.

Image Transfer Grade: A

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Englishyes
Dolby Digital
5.1
Englishyes
DTSEnglishyes


Audio Transfer Review: Accompanying the strong image transfer are impressive sound mixes. The film defaults to the Dolby Digital 5.1 mix, but the DTS track is accessible through both the menu and by remote control. The DTS 5.1 mix is preferable, with crisp sound throughout. The surround speakers are put to good use, with sound effects, Thomas Newman's score, and ambient noise giving them a frequent workout. The front soundstage is opened up with a variety of ambience and crisp, audible dialogue. The closing 15 minutes are the highlight of the mix, with some nice phantom imaging to open up the surrounds and bring the film to a new level.

The Dolby Digital 5.1 track is also a fine mix. It is not quite as robust or juiced up as the DTS, but the dialogue, score, and sound effects are all well balanced throughout. There isn't much phantom imaging and the mix is slightly less dynamic, but otherwise it is a nice mix. There also is a Dolby Stereo surround sound mix available.

Audio Transfer Grade: A

 

Disc Extras

Full Motion menu with music
Scene Access with 20 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, Spanish with remote access
1 Original Trailer(s)
2 Other Trailer(s) featuring Delta of Venus, Wide Sargasso Sea
1 Feature/Episode commentary by Patrick Bauchau, David Duchovny, Mimi Rogers, Michael Tolkin
Weblink/DVD-ROM Material
Packaging: Amaray
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: RSDL
Layers Switch: 00h:59m:11s

Extras Review: The extra material provided is a nice plus, but it is not an amazing collectionl. There is a feature-length commentary by writer-director Michael Tolkin and actors Mimi Rogers, David Duchovny, and Patrick Bauchau. Their comments are largely uninformative about the production, though they do mention some amusing anecdotes (such as Duchovny's nude shot being used in multiple publications for the past decade). The comments by Bauchau were recorded separately from the others and are slightly difficult to understand because he mutters most of what he says. He does, however, offer some interesting analysis about what he thought of Vic and how he approached the role. Additionally, Tolkin manages to squeeze in some information about the controversy that surrounded the film when it was released, but the track mostly consists of him, Duchovny, and Rogers discussing their views of the film's religious content. The commentary isn't topnotch, but it's got enough worthwhile ideas floating around in it to give it a listen.

The original theatrical trailer is presented in Dolby Digital 5.1 and anamorphic 1.85:1 widescreen, and, in watching it, one can see how difficult it was to market this story (the approach taken here is more of a supernatural thriller style than anything else). There are also additional trailers for Delta of Venus (which contains an awful lot of nudity, including one shot featuring full frontal female) and Wide Sargasso Sea. Both of these are highly sensual trailers, showing that even to this day the studio does not understand the point of The Rapture's opening act.

The extras may not be immense, but they are a welcome bonus to this release.

Extras Grade: B-

 

Final Comments

The Rapture is one of the most powerful films made anywhere in the past 30 years, and certainly one of the most daring American films from the 1990s. The film is given a solid DVD life, with tremendous audio and image transfers. The extras are not amazing, but when the film is this good it's worth a purchase even if there are no extras.

 


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