Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Belvaux’s Rapt

Politically connected business leader Stanislas Graff has been kidnapped, but it is the press that is really out to get him. Their exaggerated revelations about Graff’s gambling and adultery take a toll on his loyal wife and daughters while they scramble to facilitate his release. Inspired by the 1978 abduction of Baron Edouard-Jean Empain, with an English language remake already in development, Lucas Belvaux’s Rapt (trailer here) opens tomorrow at Film Forum.

Graff is the powerful chairman of what is simply called “the Group.” We never really know what they produce, but they employ thousands. Thanks to his parents, Graff is the primary, but not majority shareholder. This will be an important distinction.

When news of his abduction breaks, the media runs wildly exaggerated stories about his secret indulgences. The kidnappers demand fifty million Euros, confusing the Group’s holdings with his own. The Graffs are wealthy but not that wealthy. Embarrassed by the tabloid headlines, the Group will only pony-up just so much for their damaged goods chairman. That puts his wife Françoise in a difficult negotiating position, not that the police even want to negotiate.

It looks like DSK will get off easy compared to Graff. Yet despite the uncertain future awaiting him should he ever be released, there is no danger of Graff succumbing to Stockholm syndrome. Indeed, he will endure brutal treatment, perhaps more damaging emotionally than physically. Yet, Belvaux never revels in the violent details, presenting the crime and subsequent investigation with cool detachment.

In a standout lead performance, Israeli-born Yvan Attal’s Graff convincingly takes viewers on quite a dramatic arc, going through the ringer and coming out the other side. Anne Consigny also vividly portrays the conflicted wife’s doubts and resentments. In fact, Rapt’s ensemble cast of dozens all look smoothly polished gliding in and out of the procedural story, but Alex Descas stands out amongst the business suits for the charismatic intensity he brings as the Graffs’ attorney, Walser.

Slickly produced, Rapt encompasses a broader scope than most crime films, encompassing the upper echelons of the business and political establishments, as well as the police bureaucracy. While the glossy look and aloof style might leave some cold, it is certainly ambitious filmmaking. An intriguing film in many ways, Rapt is highly recommended when it opens this Wednesday (7/6) at New York’s Film Forum.