Repulsion.

Carol's paranoia goes deeper than ever when her sister leaves for Italy.

Roman Polanski came to Britain in 1965 at the behest of the Compton Group, which specialised in what the skin trade called ‘daring films’. His contract called for two feature films to be made on location in the United Kingdom. Repulsion (1965) was the first.

Carol Ledoux (Catherine Deneuve), a young Belgian manicurist, lives with her elder sister Helen (Yvonne Furneaux) in Kensington London. When Helen goes to Italy for a few days with her married boyfriend Michael (Ian Hendry), she leaves her younger sister alone in the large, gloomy flat, which deepens this unstable young women’s paranoia.  Two men are attracted to the beautiful Carol, one of which is the well-intentioned Colin (John Fraser) the other is her sisters slimy lecherous landlord (Patrick Wymark). Unable to except either in her singularly private world she reaches the brink of her personal insanity.

With the help of Gilbert Taylors camera work, wide angles getting wider and an imaginative use of deep focus, Polanski has made a bleak, but brilliantly observed study of the decent into madness, highlighting Carole’s loneliness, her sexual repression and frustrations coupled with her obsessive fear of the opposite sex. This stunning psychological horror film is amongst Roman Pollanski’s best work and is back on the big screen as part of his retrospective at the BFI Southbank. Can’t help feeling that it would make a great double bill with either Clouzot’s Les diaboliques (1955) or Michael Powell’s 1960 masterpiece Peeping Tom, both similarly intense movies.

Catherine Deneuve stars as the unstable younger sister.