Rapt (Lucas Belvaux, 2009)
I loved—and I mean really, really loved—all the places that Rapt was going. Which makes it all the more depressing that it never got to any of them. Which is not to say that what we got is not a watchable, if bog-standard, thriller, but it occurred to me more than once while I was watching it that had Belvaux, who also wrote the script, gotten together with Simon Hynd, who adapted (relatively well) Stona Fitch’s novel Senseless for the screen, the two of them could have come up with the perfect abduction thriller. Alas, it was not to be.
The plot: Stanislas Graff (The Interpreter‘s Yvan Attal), a high-powered businessman who has the French president’s ear, is kidnapped and held for a 50 million euro ransom. But things start going wrong from the outset. The kidnappers seem to be working from false information, Stanislas’ company’s board of directors would rather negotiate terms than actually pay the money, and the longer Stanislas remains in captivity, the more of a field day the press is having with digging up the unsavory details of his private life, to the point where the kidnappers start wondering: is this guy worth a plugged nickel, much less 50 million euros?
The obvious first thing here is to give kudos to Belvaux for playing it straight; I can’t imagine how much temptation there must have been to turn this into a farce, or at least a Reservoir Dogs or A Touch of Larceny-style satire. (And this movie reminded me of the latter more than once, I have to say.) On the other hand, he didn’t give us enough character development, especially with the lead kidnapper, to turn this into the kind of talk-piece Belvaux seemed to be aiming for. That’s why I started thinking about the flaws in Senseless, which I watched less than a month before seeing this, and by the time the movie was over I’d started seeing them as complementary pieces; those things Senseless did wrong, for the most part, Rapt got right, and vice versa, so putting the two together would have worked very well indeed. But neither is a bad film on its own; Rapt is very ambitious, though it often doesn’t seem so. And where its characters are well-drawn, you can see flashes of the movie this should have been; they make it worth your while. ** ½
Trailer. Engsubbed. Note: does contain spoilers.