PlotCarole Ledoux (Catherine Deneuve) is a young Belgian manicurist who lives in Kensington, London, with her sister Helen (Yvonne Furneaux). Carol seems shy and interacts with men awkwardly. When Helen leaves on a holiday to Italy with her married boyfriend, Michael (Ian Hendry), Carol acts distracted at work, refuses to leave her apartment, leaves a raw, skinned rabbit out to rot, and sees hallucinations, first of the walls cracking, then reaching out with hands to grab and attack her, and finally of a man breaking in and raping her.
When Colin (John Fraser), a would-be suitor whom she has rejected, breaks into the flat, she bludgeons him to death with a candlestick and dumps the body into the overflowing bath. Later, the landlord (Patrick Wymark) arrives for the late rent. Carol pays him and at first just sits on the sofa, staring into space, as he remarks on the state of the apartment and gives her water to drink. But when he tries to force himself on her, she slashes him to death with a straight razor.
When Helen returns, she discovers the dead men's bodies and finds Carol hidden under her bed. Carol appears catatonic. As neighbours arrive and call for help, the camera slowly pans to a family photograph on the mantel, zooming in on Carol's face as a child. Her eyes are riveted to the man next to her, and she appears to be afraid of him.
- Catherine Deneuve as Carole Ledoux
- Yvonne Furneaux as Hélène/Helen Ledoux
- Ian Hendry as Michael
- John Fraser as Colin
- Patrick Wymark as Landlord
- Renee Houston 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
ImageryRepulsion is the first of Polanski's "apartment trilogy" (the other two being Rosemary's Baby and The Tenant (Le Locataire)).
The film is shot in black and white, increasingly adopting the perspective of its protagonist. The dream sequences are particularly intense.
Awards and receptionAt the 15th Berlin International Film Festival in 1965, Repulsion won both the FIPRESCI Prize and the Silver Berlin Bear-Extraordinary Jury Prize. 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 currently holds 100% on Rotten Tomatoes and it is widely considered as a classic of the psychological thriller genre.
- Rosemary's Baby (1968), by Roman Polanski
- The Tenant - (Le Locataire) (1976), by Roman Polanski
- π (1998), by Darren Aronofsky, alludes to the film, and Aronofsky's Black Swan (2010) certainly contains thematic allusions to it.
- 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.