Based on the DVD cover image of a man, seated and bound, with the title in bold red across the middle, one might get the idea that Rapt is a standard kidnapping thriller, but writer/director Lucas Belvaux is less interested in raising the viewer's pulse as he is in exploring the ripple effect of such a situation. With an almost documentary-like detachment, Belvaux observes the ensuing collateral damage as both the police and the criminals act and react to a portrait of a man illustrated by everything he left behind, and how that portrait is reflected upon both the victim and the victim's family. Thrillseekers will be better served loooking elsewhere, but those in the mood for a low-key French drama should find it intriguing.
Stanislas Graff (Yvan Attal) is the majority shareholder of Graff-Keller, and a prominent enough public figure to make his wealth and playboy lifestyle a subject of speculation for the French press. When he disappears, his accounts are frozen, so the company decides to front the money for his release. Based on an assessment of his finances, the board of remaining shareholders agrees to front up to 20 million Euros for Stanislas' release, but the kidnappers have had their appetites whet by tabloid stories that estimate his wealth at 20 billion, with Graff gambling as much as 1.5 million away every week at cards. 50 million is nothing if you're worth 20 billion, they say. Stanislas tries to explain he's not worth that much, but the kidnappers are less than convinced.
Meanwhile, at his home, Graff's family is tormented by the same tabloids, which also delve into his affairs. His wife (Anne Consigny) struggles to remain composed and focused on Graff's safety while discussing his weakened financial state and secret second life. His daughters (Sarah Messens, Julie Kaye) love him deeply, but feel betrayed by his indiscretions. Repeated attempts by various partners and friends at the company to get the kidnappers to settle for less than their demands are met with failure, and Graff grows thin and weary, waiting with dwindling hope that the money will be delivered, and increasing fear that he will simply be murdered.
At the heart of Rapt is a discussion of wealth and privilege that feels particularly timely. What message does Graff-Keller send by allowing their majority shareholder to run around cheating on his wife, gambling away his fortune instead of doing something more charitable, and then loaning him millions of dollars to secure his freedom? Later, one the kidnappers chats with Graff, envisioning a post-payoff, upper class hunting trip where the two men would unknowingly meet again. The gangsters are attracted to the tabloid picture of Graff's lifestyle, and yet, they have destroyed the illusion for Graff and his family, and revealed the down side: a rich person is not the only one who feels entitled by wealth.
Meanwhile, Graff is forced to come to terms with his value to those around him. Although nobody -- the company, his wife, the kidnappers -- wants his death on their conscience, nobody seems to care about him as a human being. He is a commodity, an asset, a figurehead. Belvaux provides several scenes that illustrate Graff as equally imprisoned in his own home as he is in the hands of the kidnappers. The board members consider the image of the company in the light of the kidnapping. Graff's wife and daughters begin to wish for his return just to hear him apologize for the ways he's wronged them over the years. In theory, it seems so simple: grab a rich guy, demand some money, and everyone gets to walk away more or less intact, but Rapt compellingly -- if not thrillingly -- illustrates how such a scenario isn't possible.
The Video and Audio
Kino Lorber's 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen presentation of Rapt is harsh and underwhelming. Contrast seems a little high, causing whites to burn just a little, and blacks to crush to an extreme degree -- hardly a shot goes by without some shadow detail disappearing into hazy, noisy darkness. It's hard to be certain, but there may also be a touch of edge enhancement applied. Fine detail also seems low for a new release; the image is very soft. Comparatively, the French Dolby Digital 5.1 track stands on firmer ground, but Rapt's cold kidnap-victim basements and posh, echo-filled mansions and business corridors don't exactly add up to a challenge or a particularly enveloping experience. The dialogue is balanced, and sparse music is nicely spread out, but nobody's going to blow out their speaker system. English subtitles are provided.
Only a trailer and a photo gallery are included here. Additional trailers for The Robber, Film Socialisme, City of Life and Death, and Armadillo are also included.
Rapt isn't an easy sell: it's a thriller with few thrills, and it focuses on the dramatic struggle of the rich and privileged in a time when sympathy lies with the underdog, but Belvaux's study of the gears of unintentional fallout is quietly compelling. Recommended.
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