on August 24, 2002
When I first saw The Rapture (when it first came out), I was struck by how meticulous (and amusing) the (non-denominational) portrayals of the Born Agains (or, as I prefer to call this particular stripe of same, Apocalyptic Wowsers) were, from the faux Mormon missionaries to the painful earnestness of the young daughter asking to be with God and her daddy. This movie was saying everything I had wanted to say about religious Millenialism, and saying it (I thought) loud and clear.
Sharon, the character played by Mimi Rogers, was not living a life she was happy with, so, like so many others, instead of looking within herself to see what she could do to fix it, she (however unconsciously) sought without. Naturally there are always people willing to provide a sense of safety, surety, and surface happiness, or to show you how to achieve those things. All you have to do is give up what you are, and put all your faith in something that demands everything (and everything most certainly is demanded) of you, not only your life, but your soul.
Michael Tolkin is laughing at Born Again-ism, Millenialists, and fundies of the Christian persuasion in this movie. The Rapture is a primer on getting just what you pray for - here is what will happen if this is what you truly believe. Fortunately, he is also able to show us a woman who is strong enough to resist, at the end, although it means spending her eternity caught between Heaven and Hell.
When looking for meaning or layers, or subtext, or whatever, in a movie (or any other work of art, for that matter), it always helps to put the thing in context with other works by the same person. It may be well to remember that Michael Tolkin is also responsible for The Player and The New Age.
on April 1, 2002
If you yawned you missed this one when it first came out in the movies years ago. An "R" rated look at the Christian Rapture, it scared off Christians with its rating and heathens with its topic matter, so basically had no audience.
After watching it twice now, I still don't know what to make of it. The life of sexual hedonism and its emptiness is shown, but not to a degree that you really got the feeling she would be suicidal. Her Christian conversion and subsequent life changes were interesting, and true in many respects, but with the typical hollywood portrayal of all personal Christianity -- rather shallow. It had the feel that "7th Heaven" has as a TV show showing Christianity. The people trying to show what it's like are on the outside looking in, not those who trully experience it.
The main character's turning back away from God is equally as puzzling. Things don't happen the way she expects "We'll give God one more chance", then she chooses actions that she can't forgive God for. She's in the desert several weeks, then shoots her daughter the day before the Rapture comes. Oddly, she never seems to figure out that if she waited one more day everything would have been fine, and God didn't ask her to shoot her daughter.
The Rapture scenes are cursory and not filled out, which fits the movie. It's not deep theology and isn't meant to be. The film is much more about concepts than specifics. Some of the lines will make Christians cringe because they don't match Christian thought "God loves us because we love Him", but overall for a Hollywood movie they do a good job.
I recommend the film, but I'm not sure why. You'll either like it or you won't, but for a semi shallow undertaking if does create a depth of thinking.
on August 2, 2001
CAUTION...READ THE OTHER REVIEWS BELOW AT YOUR OWN RISK, because most contain spoilers that will ruin all the twists and turns this roller coaster has to offer.
I saw this on a local station last Sunday afternoon, so most of the "good" parts in the beginning were, thankfully, edited out. Being a bit of a prude, I probably would not have picked up the (deservably) R-rated film at Blockbusters. In fact, I thought that the movie's effort to convince us that the heroine, and her lover, really needed conversion was just a little too gratuitous for my taste, and cost it at least half a star in my rating.
But, being a closet X-Files, and Pretender, fan, I just had to see where their future stars were going to take this story.
And, as a Christian, I thought that the movie, despite some doctrinal problems, unneeded cultic mumbo-jumbo, and an obviously skimpy budget, had depicted as good a conversion and rapture scenario, at the personal level, as we are likely to see on film.
So, get up, and make pop-corn with the sound turned up during the nasty-bits, and then settle down to watch a film that you will not soon forget.
on April 19, 2002
Although this movie does have some intriguing points and does a good job of bringing up age old scepticism,it inadequatly depicts Christianity by demonizing religon and lionizing the proud and rebelious.Mimi Rogers who plays Sharon does a few things that make me wonder why so many people would feel sorry for her.First of all(and I blame this largely on Hollywood)when Sharon decides to turn a new leaf and try to better herself AKA not sleeping around in promiscuous group sex,she instantly goes to a 180 extreme by rigid rules and preaching to others instead of knowing God,loving God,treating herself and others with reaspect and trying to lead a decent life.Hollywood always makes this statement that you're either extremely pious or you indulge in every kind of sin;no inbetween,how unoriginal and closeminded.
Secondly,she kills her daughter one day before the rapture not because God told her to,but because of her own lack of faith.All she had to do was wait ONE DAY!That in itself shows her selfishness and how shallow her soul is.
Lastly,near the end of the movie,when she is sooo angry with God(
why I don't know,God did not order her to kill her daughter)
she has the chance to be reunited with her daughter in Heaven if she would just accept God and His commandments.Naturally being the idiot that she is,she refuses.If any human is that proud and that self-absorbed then they don't deserve to be in Paradise.
I really like Mimi Rogers,but this script was so sterotypical and biased that it would turn away anyone who was considering a religous life.
on July 15, 2001
I caught this movie on cable one night and was intrigued. I sat through the whole thing because it was just so different, there is no other contemporary movie like this. This is a movie that provokes several different emotions all in an hour and a half. It begins with a glimpse into "Sharon's" life (played by Mimi Rogers), a life of boredom and dissatisfaction. She has a job as a telephone operator, and at night she and her male friend cruise around looking for other couples to have sex with. And the sex scenes leave nothing to the imagination. She slips further and further into doom and almost commits suicide, when she picks up a Bible and after reading it decides to become a believer. She gets married and has a daughter. Her husband is tragically killed and this is where she goes off the deep end and turns into a religious fantatic, leaving her home and wandering in the desert with her daughter, because she believes God wants her to. She then shoots her own daughter, so that she can be with Jesus. I found that way more appalling than the sex scenes. She then goes off another deep end by turning her back on God, even coming to hate Him. The End of Time comes and everyone she loves ends up in Heaven...except her, because she can't forgive God, blaming Him for the crazy things she did! This is an unusual movie, the kind you only see once but can't forget...the kind you only want to see once.
on July 9, 2001
Without even the camp awfulness of bad sci-fi or the risible portentiousness of the Cecil B DeMill epics, The Rapture is a strong contender for the title of worst film ever made. The acting is third rate (you can practically see the actors trying to stifle yawns as they lurch mechanically through the wooden script), the concept trite beyond belief, and the conclusion almost (but, sadly, not quite) comic. Anyone with an IQ greater than their hat size is unlikely to enjoy this film. It is, in short, Christian schlock as only Hollywood can make it. The tedium of the religious content comes from the total lack of imagination with which it is treated. Whereas an atheist can find something of artistic interest in Goethe's Faust, even a born again type is unlikely to find much to write home about in this terrible story of a woman who moves from one shallow life (a "sex addict") to another (a "born again"), who loses her husband and then feels compelled by her god to shoot her daughter (wasn't there something in the Christian philosophy about not killing? I guess that got lost somewhere along the way). Just when the film presents the (slender) possibility that a critique of religious extremism and emotional pain might be on offer, the film lurches to a conclusion in which the end of the world arrives (but not soon enough to spare us from this film!) and the protagonist's narrow little world of gods and heavens is revealed to be (of course) true after all. This film is a complete waste of time all around, without a single redeeming feature. There should be a negative rating available, for this bathetic (sic) effort deserves a minus-5.
on June 25, 2001
Sharon suffers great confusion about her role and nature in her body/space/time matrix. After she immerses herself into body and sensate consciousness about as much as a human can, she finds despair. A message is creeping into her through dreams, and she attaches its meaning to the prophecies of a cult of sincere fundamentalists who are possessed by the idea of the Rapture. Passionate and obsessive about one thing or another as always, Sharon becomes as immersed in her interpretation of Revelation as she was about thrill-seeking. In her bottom-line desire to "lose herself" in one thing or another, she finds that she cannot lose her Self at all. At the end, she can neither accept the idea of a total, forgiving Authority any more than she can accept responsibility and forgiveness for her own misinterpretations of reality. She is left at the edge of the River Styx, unable to cross. She will not surrender her grievances, because they have become - and may have always been - the basis of her Self-Concept. She would rather cling to her judgments and grievances that be delivered.
Tolkin is an astonishing filmmaker, and THE RAPTURE has not lost any of its eerie power since I saw it in a Century City theater in 1991. What amazes me is some Christians' inability to grasp its depth or sincerity, but it is a theological rubix cube, and those who like Kirkengaard and more mystical investigations into Christianity will relish it, as it cautions against 'literalism' as much as it eviscerates 'pride'.
Is it outrageous that Mimi Rogers was not awarded some honor for her portrayal of the troubled "Can't find my limits" Sharon. Nevermind she has probably ruffled some Hollywood feathers with her personal life, but everytime I watch this film I am left speechless by her immersion into this tragic character, whose angst will move anyone that has searched the Long Night for under-standing.
Add to her bravura acting a well-cast David Duchovny, the wonderfully sybaritic Patric Buchau (spelling?), and a fine score by Thomas Newman, along with some great use of pop songs (Nico's "I'll Be Your Mirror" creeps through the wall like an Angel just as Sharon is about to kill herself in a dingy motel room!), and one has a knockout film.
Nevermind the special effects are on the low-end, what does that matter, really? This is a film about content, soul's content, so Tolkin can be forgiven his restrictions for bells and whistles. In fact, the FX are rather in keeping with Sharon's consciousness, anyway, and to have them blown up would have derailed the film's focus.
Also recommended: Tolkin's underrated comedy, "THE NEW AGE".
on May 14, 2001
I was mesmerized and disgusted by this film. As a Christian, I wasn't sure which direction this movie was headed. I took great offense at Sharon's robot-like expression and platitudes after she became a Christian and was certain that this would be an anti-Christian film. Then again - it wasn't. It left a very bad taste in my mouth right up to the end of the film. And the Rapture itself was very poorly depicted. But her final rejection was, as another reviewer said, jaw dropping. And to correct someone - she wasn't in purgatory - she was in the other place. Which is always described Biblically as that place where you are eternally separated from God. But I suppose that shouldn't be a surprise. In Revelation it refers to Jesus actually ruling for a 1,000 years while Satan is bound. And even after Jesus is revealed as Messiah and Savior and after ruling earth for 1,000 years - He releases Satan for a "little while" and some people will actually follow Satan.
But for me, when I feel my feet leaving the ground - I'm not going to yell: "I don't want to go". I'm going to lift my arms in joy because I'm going to my "real" home at last and leave all this earthly, material stuff behind
on May 8, 2001
This is one of the most disturbing movies I've ever seen. I won't go into a blow-by-blow account of the movie (read the previous comments or better yet watch the movie) but there is one part in which I felt Sharon (the main character) really "lost it". It's when after her husband was tragically killed and there was a scene of a service she attended at her church. "The Boy" quoted Revelation 12:6 and grossly took it out of context. It mentioned the woman fleeing into the desert and God taking care of her for 1260 days. Taken into context with Revelation 12, the reason why the woman fled was because she was pregnant with a male child that would rule the earth and the devil was prepared to destroy the child once it was born. But God snatched the child and took it into heaven and THEN the woman fled. The scripture didn't give Sharon an excuse to abandon her job, home, relatives, friends, etc. and literally go into the desert and wait for the Rapture. And I didn't even mention that she left with her innocent daughter Mary who was forced to leave school and a normal childhood because of this. It just goes to show you how cults can use Bible scripture and twist it to their own advantage and make it mean anything.
on March 30, 2001
The religious concepts expressed in the visuals in this movie are truly incredible. Being a comfortable atheist and more attuned to Chinese and Japanese culture, I still find the various religions in my community fascinating from a philisophical point of view.
With my limited knowledge of the deeper thelogical issues of Christian fundementalism, I thought the writer and director handled this movie quite well without showing a bias towards any side. it was a straight-forward presentation of one person's spiritual struggle. It always seemed to me Hollywood has stereotyped and condescended to Christians but not in this film.
I understand that for many denominations, the issues are very real and if anything, the Rapture opens the floodgates to discussion and debate. Unfortunately, these types of films aren't too "marketable" and we may not see another one like it for a while.
Maybe it's just me and my upbringing, but the idea of an afterlife just seems strange. For me, there's evil in the world with no God to stop it, leaving only you, your sword (or gun or whatever) and the hair on your balls to achieve justice or die trying. Either way, the "heavenly reward" comes in knowing how cool you looked to your friends, family and country right before dying. Now whether a supreme being gives me the strength to stand up to evil or not, I'll never know.
The main issue that will keep me and my friends talking is whether man has a primitive, spritual need to be judged by a collective in addition to the basic instincts of food, shelter and reproduction. That goes to the very heart of libertarian and neo-classical liberal thought.
In short, even though I couldn't really relate to the characters as hard as I tried, the ending was still very haunting and the general themes were disturbing. And some violent scenes are NOT for the faint of heart.
"Man is a rope stretched between beast and overman, a dangerous 'looking ahead' , a dangerous 'looking back', a dangerous 'looking down'. I love those who do not know how to live, for it is they that cross over."