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Mystery DVD #252 - There Are No Walls in the House of Jearl
October 26th, 2015
07:58 am

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Mystery DVD #252
The Rapture
Needing meaning in her empty life, promiscuous Sharon (Mimi Rogers) becomes a born-again Christian. But when an apparent apocalypse nears and God demands Sharon perform an Abraham-like sacrifice, she makes a choice that could change her life forever. What will become of her husband Randy (David Duchovny), her daughter and her devotion to her chosen religion? Michael Tolkin directs his own screenplay.

What a strange movie. The blurb writer didn't know what to make of it either.

This is part three of a women-in-the-throes-of-a-disastrous-religious-experience trifecta with Mad Cowgirl and Antichrist. The former was lurid, the latter was horrific. This one was just very weird and sincere, with Mimi Rogers doing most of the work, since the screenplay seems to demand that all other characters be calm, polite, and reasonable, even in the face of infanticide.

I mean, it's a trifecta so far. Please don't make me watch Eat, Pray, Love ever again.


This description is going to be a little boring, sorry. The film is low-key and builds slowly, and is minutely focused on the main character's development, to the point that I thought the other actors might have been directed to hang back emotionally. I'm going to have to spoil the heck out of it to say anything at all.

Sharon's an information operator, which was a thing of old where you called a number to look someone up because there were no search engines yet. So all day every day, most of her human contact is the same 15-second-long conversation hundreds of times a day. By night she and her boyfriend cruise around picking up other couples to bang. She is bored out of her mind. She becomes curious about Christianity after hearing some of her co-workers sharing stories of a prophetic boy and a dream they have all had.

Wanting the happiness and certainty that she sees in the Christians, and that she thinks herself incapable of having, because she doesn't believe and doesn't know how to believe, Sharon becomes frantic with despair. She kicks her regular side guy Randy (David Duchovny, startlingly ripped but unfortunately be-mulleted) out of her bed and tries to get herself 'clean,' tries to pray, but she doesn't know how. In a last ditch, do-or-die attempt to outgrow herself, she picks up a hilariously awful hitchhiker, takes him to a motel, steals his gun and kicks him out, ready to commit suicide. Instead, she has the epiphany she's been searching for. The other Christians accept her, and she meets the prophetic boy, who foretells the end of the world in the next few years. Sharon has a heartfelt talk with Randy, and her certainty and happiness is contagious -- he agrees to try on this Christian thing.

Six years pass. Sharon and Randy have a little girl and are super happy and everything is great. The End Days are nigh and they are not scared at all because they know they're going to Heaven.

Randy is murdered in a completely senseless workplace shooting! It is terrible, but Sharon and Mary know they'll see him again soon. But it is more complicated than that -- Sharon sees a vision of Randy, summoning her to the desert. She consults the prophetic boy, who says, 'Well, sounds about right. Go to the desert then, and wait.' Sharon drives Mary out to a California state park and they wait, for weeks. They run out of food. They despair. Mary begins to beg to die so she can see her father again. It is incredibly horrible. Because Sharon can't argue with the logic of faith and the certainty they share, she eventually agrees.

The same faith that made Sharon so happy, now makes her hate God with the same implacable certainty. She wants to go to heaven to be with her family, but that would mean forgiving God for demanding so much from her. She refuses to. The Rapture comes, angels and horsemen and all, she is literally looking at Heaven awaiting her, and she rejects it. It was the most hard core thing I have ever seen.

Mimi Rogers kills it in this movie. I am not sure what else to take away. Personal Lessons from The Rapture: Certainty is Terrifying, and Mimi Rogers Kills It. She things she has to express! like, Unalerted Boredom, Alert to Despair Boredom, Ordinary Mortal Despair, Scary Eye-Popping Certainty, Bargaining With God, Realization that You Cannot Bargain With God, Total Extraplanar Despair, Cold Rage Towards All Existence, Walking Away From Heaven Holy Shit. So, see it for that. She's kinda the whole movie. It's otherwise rather dull and uncanny, with most of the other characters showing so little emotion.

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From:boylawyer
Date:October 28th, 2015 08:58 pm (UTC)
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Yeepers, that sounds unrelentingly....terrible? Nihilistic? Terrible to watch? What's the word I'm looking for here?

Trying to figure out what the idea is behind the movie - thoughtless fealty to something you don't understand is bad? Isn't that kind of a straw man? Or am I trying too hard to impose an ideal on something that may as well have been made because the writer/director thought it would make a cool movie...
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From:jearl
Date:October 28th, 2015 10:02 pm (UTC)
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It wasn't terrible to watch, it just got really super intense towards the end. It was a strange viewing experience, though... it started so low-key that the only driving force was curiosity to see where it's going. I came out more impressed by the slow buildup than dismayed. But yeah I did yell "NO DO NOT DO THIS" at the screen a couple times.

And I think it was a story told for story's sake rather than any agenda. There was no feeling of a lesson or cautionary tale, I mean, what kind of caution can you take from "Hey if God were real and made rules that made you hate him, you would have to hang out in Limbo forever"?
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From:boylawyer
Date:October 29th, 2015 03:01 pm (UTC)
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It's interesting to think about, right? I mean, if you accept that Heaven is real and eternal and that the world is just a test or something, then why would you even care what arbitrary sick rules God imposed down here? Yeah, you had to effectively kill your kid. So what? Now you're all in Heaven forever!

Alternatively, if God is so sick as to make these terrible, terrible things happen down here, who is to say that Heaven is all that great?
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From:elklad
Date:November 4th, 2015 02:06 am (UTC)
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I randomly caught this movie on TV several years ago. While it sounds bleak, I found it surprisingly worth watching and not unpleasant. It's hard to describe just how matter of fact and low-key the whole thing is. For me that made an ending that could have seemed bonkers feel oddly apt.

I mean, Mimi Rogers's character makes kind of the most existentially terrible choice, but I was still rooting for her.
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From:boylawyer
Date:November 10th, 2015 03:17 pm (UTC)
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I mean, I want to believe you (and Jearl, of course), but it sounds SO. VERY. BLEAK. I mean, how could it not be incredibly depressing right?

How low-key can one be about turning one's back on the actual presence of god/heaven?
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From:elklad
Date:November 11th, 2015 01:54 am (UTC)
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Well, it's relative. The ending is perhaps not low-key in absolute terms, but it's still pretty low-key for the end of existence. Maybe it would be better to say that the movie's direction fosters a degree of detachment that allows you to contemplate the implications of the world it's constructed?

It's also possible I'm not remembering it well, since it was a while ago.
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From:boylawyer
Date:November 12th, 2015 02:31 pm (UTC)
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Have to admit, upon further reflection there is definitely something intriguing about a movie that can be described as "It's about the apocalypse and the ultimate rejection of god by man, but it's pretty low-key and mellow about it, really."
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From:goddesstiamat
Date:January 28th, 2016 04:42 pm (UTC)

Remember me? I got you out of a Type V Demon's coils back in '06!

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By gum, it's been awhile. I was just going through our old World's Largest Dungeon adventure(s) and my heart was warmed to see that some of us are still using LJ. Then I saw your review to what seems to be a rather intense film. I haven't seen it, but my Drama education tells me that it was probably intended to keep up a low-key mood so that the ending would be all the more shocking/traumatic.

In any case, it is lovely to see you and the late Shiitake/Gentleman Ghoul again. (Oh, and some years ago I figured out what the Spacecrime DM was symbolizing with the two scrolls....)
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