Rapt: Film Review

The film lacks star power but shrewdly promoted and with good word of mouth it could pay off handsomely at the box office.

PARIS -- Lucas Belvaux's Rapt is two movies, both excellent, for the price of one. On the one hand, it's a social-political thriller of the kind made familiar by Costa-Gavras. On the other, it's a psychological study of a creature of power during and after his seizure by ransom-hunters, and the effects of the kidnap on those close and not so close to him. It lacks star power but shrewdly promoted and with good word of mouth it could pay off handsomely at the boxoffice.

The kidnapping of Stanislas Graff (Yvan Attal), a leading industrialist close to the heart of the French establishment, triggers murky revelations concerning his private life -- mistresses, high living, huge gambling debts -- that shatter the illusions of his wife, Francoise (Anne Consigny), and school-age children.

Amid lurid media speculation, meeting the demands of Graff's captors -- a cool 50 million euros ($70 million) -- is further complicated as it emerges that his family, his company and the police are working to different agendas, not all of them guaranteed to produce a happy ending. The police hierarchy is opposed to any attempt to pay the ransom, even if Graff's family can raise the wherewithal. For company executives, Graff has become a major embarrassment.

Meanwhile Graff is brutalized, mutilated (a middle finger is chopped off) and generally humiliated. An attempt by his lawyer (Alex Descas) to buy his freedom is foiled by the police and leads to his being smuggled off in a box to a new hideout.

The mechanics of the kidnap operation, the police response and the events that eventually lead to Graff's release are gripping enough, but the emotional fall-out from his ordeal and, in particular, his return to his home and his office is quite compelling.

Belvaux charts the disintegration of family relations in dialogue that is crisp and precise. The drama of the closing scenes in Graff's office and his family dining room is as intense as anything that has gone before.

The story is based on a real-life incident from the late 1970s, but Belvaux's decision to set it in the present day, with pointed references to stock options and executive privilege, is amply vindicated. Belvaux studiously avoids taking sides, and the overall tone is dispassionate.

Attal shines in an ensemble cast, with a special mention due to Andre Marcon as Peyrac, Graff's deadpan second-in-command determined not to let a good crisis go to waste.

Opened: In France, Nov. 18
Production credits: Agat Films, Entre Chien et Loup, France 3 Cinema, RTBF, Ateliers de Baere
Cast: Yvan Attal, Anne Consigny, Andre Marcon, Francoise Fabian, Alex Descas, Michel Voita, Gerard Meylan, Maxime Lefrancois, Christophe Lourotchkine
Producers: Patrick Sobelman, Diana Elbaum, Sebastien Delloye
Director: Lucas Belvaux
Writer: Lucas Belvaux
Photography: Pierre Milon
Production design: Frederique Belvaux
Editor: Danielle Anezin
Music: Riccardo Del Fra
Sales: Films Distribution
No rating, 125 minutes

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