Played by “I’m so beautiful it should be illegal” Catherine Deneuve, Carole is a young woman who works in a beauty salon. She is very close to her sister, who is slowly but surely moving away from her in favor of a new man, and she has a very real fear of sex, and the male organ. So much so that she’s obviously disturbed by his cousin’s advances toward her. When her sister goes for a holiday with her new boyfriend, the loneliness of her apartment, her disturbed mind and her fear of sex consume her, and before you know it, there’s murder involved.
This was one of the first films by Roman Polanski I had ever seen, almost right after Rosemary’s Baby, during my teenage years, and it always stuck with me. I blame most of it on Catherine Deneuve herself. My God, was this woman beautiful or what? And seeing her play this virginal, scared woman was really something to behold. Her facial expressions are truthful and crazy at the same time. This is basically a psychological horror film, and it’s psychological angle is done so flawlessly. There are always long intervals between soundtrack music, which is a jazzy score so typical of it’s time, where Catherine listens to the voices of the neighbors, the cracks on the wall, her sister making love with a man she hates, etc. And her demential illusions are incredible as well, with men coming and attacking her sexually, the doors cracking, that disgusting rotting rabbit on a plate that reminds me of the baby of Eraserhead. Still, it doesn’t deviate from the murders when it actually happens, but then again I also put it’s effectiveness on Deneuve. It’s so sudden, you’d never expect this angelic-faced blonde to do them.
Even with this, the movie has it’s flaws. Polanski obviously didn’t have much control over the English language yet, so some of the lines come out rather awkward. Even more awkward are the purposeful attempts at humor, like when Denuevo and her friend from the salon are laughing while discussing Chaplin’s “The Gold Rush”. What a weird scene, even for this movie. Still, this is great film, and a perfect example of psychological horror.