The Rapture

dir. Tolkin

Opens Fri Sept 5

Clinton Street Theatre

In 1991, Nirvana's Nevermind was released, and an entire nation found itself relating to music written by a misanthropic, suicidal heroin junkie. The Rapture was released the same year; if that's any indication, American society was having a serious existential crisis about the coming millennium. Quite simply, Nevermind was an album about how people suck; The Rapture is a film about how God sucks.

Directed in a paranoid tone--where camera angles are oppressive and bit players have all the creepy presence of the newly brainwashed--The Rapture begins at the cusp of apocalypse. Beautiful Mimi Rogers hears her coworkers whispering about it, and some scary Christians come over to preach, but she doesn't care--she's more into wild, partner-swapping sex parties than God. (This is how she meets the beefily young David Duchovny, her love interest.) One night, though, as she starts to realize her life is empty and meaningless, she encounters a woman with a mysterious pearl tattooed on her back. It's then she realizes the rapture truly is coming, and the Saved are dreaming about God in the form of a pearl! Voila! Born again.

At this point, the direction transitions blissfully, and Rogers walks around with soft-focus light filtering through her silky mane of hair, preaching to anyone who will listen about the all-encompassing love of God. She meets many doubters--those who wonder why God will only save Christians, for instance--but still, she realizes to get to heaven, she must not question her love of Him. That is, until He puts her to the ultimate test.

Writer/director Michael Tolkin went on to write Deep Impact and Changing Lanes--two equally existential, yet far more lucrative, scripts. However, he never quite reached the creative gleam of The Rapture (nor, some would say, Gleaming the Cube, which he wrote). The Rapture doesn't compromise in its total disdain for God, even at the very end. And though it feels like being stabbed by a bleak sword, it's a very interesting film that embodies a certain moment in American consciousness. Perhaps his next film, Dawn of the Dead, will similarly capture America's paranoia of flesh-eating corpses in 2003.