[box cover]

The Rapture

Screenwriter and novelist Michael Tolkin (The Player, The New Age) made his directorial debut in 1991 with this odd, captivating, and somewhat confounding take on religious faith starring Mimi Rogers as Sharon, a soul-thirsty swinger aching for something more fulfilling than group sex with strangers. A telephone information operator by day, Sharon gradually becomes aware of a surge in enthusiasm amongst her Christian co-workers. When she learns that a boy prophet has begun preparing his followers for the impending rapture (the "judgment day" when believers will be accepted into heaven, and those who do not will be damned), she begins a gradual transformation into a devout believer — even marrying one of her former lovers (David Duchovny) and starting a family as they await their moment of reckoning. However, the life of pain that Sharon endeavors to escape does not make exceptions for the religious, and the challenges to her faith continue in very severe fashion, wearing at her resolve. Tolkin's movie is a very rare film that takes the concept of faith seriously, and it is all the more remarkable for its unflinching depiction faithlessness and desperation in that context. His script is provocative in its sincerity, but also unspoiled by the kind of easy answers generally offered as resolution in such stories. In fact, Tolkin presents just the opposite: a world that becomes more complex and the decisions more severe and wrenching when cynicism is left behind, if it can be left behind. Sadly, the finale of The Rapture, while certainly unusual, unpredictable, and emotionally and intellectually difficult, is undermined by some poorly conceived, poorly executed, low-budget apocalyptic imagery of a quality one might expect from an overly literal and cheesy Trinity Broadcast Network special. This dire conceptual miscalculation cheapens what should be a defining moment in the struggle between the physical and spiritual worlds, and it saps a great deal of the film's potential power. Ironically, however, these awkward staging choices also mask what is a (by necessity) disappointing ending full of interesting but dissatisfying contradictions. Still, Tolkin's script is mostly sharp and daringly straightforward, his direction very intimate, and Rogers — who has as tough a role as she ever will — gives her best performance. Also with Will Patton, James LeGros, and, in a small part as a security guard, Kane Hodder, who played Jason in many of the Friday the 13th movies. New Line presents The Rapture in a good anamorphic transfer (1.85:1) with Dolby Digital 5.1 and Dolby 2.0 Surround audio. Tolkin, Rogers, Duchovny, and actor Patrick Bauchau discuss the movie in a chatty group commentary, but Tolkin never really broaches his interpretation of his movie's religious content, which is disappointing. But he does express due dissatisfaction with the aesthetics of his ending. Trailer, keep-case.
—Gregory P. Dorr



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