Directed By: Michael Tolkin
Starring: Mimi Rogers, David Duchovny, Darwyn Carson
Tag line: "Rapture (rap'chur) 1. ecstatic joy or delight. 2. a state of extreme sexual ecstasy. 3. the feeling of being transported to another sphere of existence. 4. the experience of being spirited away to Heaven just before the Apocalypse"
Trivia: In order to get Mimi Rogers into character, director Michael Tolkin required her to stop being polite to people for two months
A film that takes religion and faith very seriously, director Michael Tolkin’s 1991 movie The Rapture is, at times, difficult to watch, giving us characters whose strong convictions make them seem more like members of a cult than devout Christians. But even if you ultimately reject its message of faith, The Rapture isn’t a picture you’ll easily forget.
Sharon (Mimi Rogers), whose job as an operator for directory assistance is less than satisfying, dedicates her nights to sexual debauchery, cavorting with boyfriend Vic (Patrick Bauchau) and searching for other “swingers” willing to hop into bed with them. One particular conquest, a young man named Randy (David Duchovny), shares Sharon’s bleak view of the world, and as a result the two begin seeing each other on a regular basis (a relationship that is solely sexual in nature). One afternoon, Sharon overhears several coworkers talking about God, and how the end of days is just around the corner. Though she remains a skeptic, their strong faith inspires her to reflect on the emptiness of her own life. Things become so bad for Sharon that she contemplates suicide, at which point she has an epiphany. Now a believer, she devotes herself to spreading God’s message, and even convinces the nihilistic Randy to “give God a chance”. Several years later, Randy and Sharon are married, and, along with their young daughter Mary (Kimberly Cullum), are members of an organization that believes the world is coming to an end. Having committed themselves to God, Randy and Sharon welcome the apocalypse with open arms, but when a personal tragedy befalls their family, Sharon’s faith is shaken. Will she make her peace with God before the end of days, or is she doomed to spend eternity among the lost souls who never fully embraced the glory of His love?
Mimi Rogers gives an outstanding performance as Sharon, a woman who believes she’s found God, only to lose him again when she needed him the most. Convincing as both “saint” and “sinner”, she guides her character through a life of sexual excess that ultimately leads to a religious awakening, and is 100% believable every step of the way. The supporting cast is also good, especially Kimberly Cullum as the young daughter whose faith never wavers (her scenes with Rogers are as thought-provoking as they are disturbing), and the film’s climactic moments, while not a complete shock (considering all that went before it), take the story in a direction I wasn’t expecting.
Regardless of your religious convictions (or lack thereof), The Rapture will not be an easy movie to sit through. The devout will have issues with the early scenes, which feature quite a bit of nudity and sex, while everyone else will struggle with its underlying themes of piety and faith. It’s a challenging film, to say the least; a movie that will frustrate some and anger a good many more. But it will also linger in your mind for days afterwards. You may not like what it has to say, yet there’s no denying that The Rapture is a unique motion picture experience.