Saturday, April 12, 2014

Lucas Belvaux's Rapt, 2009


Rapt is Belgian actor-director Lucas Belvaux's 2009 film inspired by the 1978 kidnapping of industrialist Edourad-Jean Empain. In fact, the kidnapping was very similar, with the man's car forced to stop when a motorcycle accident is staged in front of them. He's taken away, his finger is amputated and sent with a huge ransom demand.

It's like Kurosawa's High and Low turned on its side. In Kurosawa's film, the industrialist pays the ransom, is financially ruined, is despised by other executives in his company and by the bankers who lent him the money, but is admired by the police and the public.

In Rapt, the victim, Stanislas Graff (Yvan Attal), has details of his private life exposed---how he gambled away tens of millions of euros, the number of women he slept with, how he is little more than a figurehead for his corporation. It turns his wife, daughters, business colleagues and the public against him. Graff's family and his lawyer simply want to pay the ransom and get him freed and are at odds with the police who want to catch the kidnappers even if it jeopardizes the victim.

His wife tries to raise the money but they either weren't that rich to begin with or he's gambled away too much. She doesn't have access to his cash anyway. She'll have to borrow it from the corporation.

An interesting movie. A thriller that's more talk than action.

It also made me think of Day of the Jackal, the old one. That movie made France look like kind of a hell hole. It starts with an execution, the French government freely tortures suspects, taps phones; there are bombings, murders, robberies.

In Rapt, police are unsympathetic. They kill, they torture, they're a threat to victim and suspect alike. We see a country struggling economically with a few extremely rich, with organized crime which is as bad as it is anywhere.

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