'RAPE' FILM REVIEW by Jazz MaGee
Rape is the crime of having intercourse with a man or woman forcibly and without his or her consent is the definition displayed in the opening credits of Director, Bob Bryan’s film 'RAPE.' Most state legislation on rape have various statues. For example, rape/sodomy, rape/torture, threatening, bodily injury or any number of special circumstance clauses, including rape with foreign objects. Rape is never about the sexual act itself. This film is depicting the mindset of the rapist, the protagonist in this film. We get to see perpetrator as victim.
Rape is vile and heinous. The thought of it enrages us. 'RAPE' allows us to look closely, not just at the act of rape, but more so, the instigator of it; who this person is and why is this happening. We see human frailty. The irony in this film is not the victim’s horrific experience. The lens is on the criminal. Shot in closed framing POV of the characters allows us a degree of intimacy with him and her.
Surprisingly, the sex-induced scenes are not hard to watch. Perhaps it is because of the erotic imagery of bound and gagged intercourse or the acceptable American cultural art form of Japanese bondage. There is little to no blood in the scenes. From the beginning, 'RAPE' leaves us to surmise if it is pleasure or pain that we’re watching. It is the character dialogue that makes the distinction.
The nuances in this film are how the director is marrying mental illness with the act of rape. In addition, the black and white shadowy silhouettes add a subtle psychotic element to 'RAPE.' Psychosis, as we know it, denotes mental illness, one of three prevailing themes in this film. Power and control, real or imagined, are characteristic of rape. We see cause and effect in the first half of the film relived through childhood sexual abuse. The adult neurosis magnifies anxiety, phobia and an inability to deal with reality. It is not unusual to see adult victims of childhood abuse take on chameleon-like personas or split personalities. This defense mechanism is a coping skill for untreated abuse. In 'RAPE,' one scene is indicative of that when Raymond, the lead, starts to simulate verbally and physically the sexual innuendos perpetrated against him by becoming the abused child. That raw turning point flashed my mindset back to a couple of films where split personality disorders were portrayed, and well I might add. Actress, Halle Berry in the film (2010) 'Frankie and Alice' and actor, Edward Norton in (1996) 'Primal Fear' both cleverly played up their dysfunctional roles in those films.
Sound and music create ambiance and affects the psyche and interpretation of films. Filmmakers use music to create, contrast, allude, infer, mask or parallel themes and the tone of scenes. There is an interesting choice of music dancing with the sex in 'RAPE.' It is slow, subtle, almost mesmerizing, sultry even, an unintentional hint of sensuality and is probably why we can watch at least one of the rape scenes in this film without flinching. One of the lyrical verses sweetly croons: Love letters straight from the heart…Keep us so near while apart…I memorized every line…I kissed the name you sigh…Love letters straight from the heart …
Not surprisingly, halfway through, our antagonist, Celeste, uses her own brand of psychological manipulation to get back at her rapist. While most victims of rape would like some kind of sweet revenge, and they get it, usually by reporting rape crimes that lead to arrests resulting in lengthy incarceration.
Celeste, we infer, believing in the spiritual law KARMA: Kick Ass, Remain Mute, then Attack, in other words, an eye for an eye, retaliates against Raymond, her rapist. He suffers yet again, this time, reliving that abusive childhood at her hands. The idea that the victims of rape can find some solace by inflicting the abuse against them upon someone is a temporary notion at best. Here again, the director is trying to get us to look at mental sickness within the context of sexual abuse.
Rapists are mentally ill criminals and many were sexually-victimized themselves. We get this ugly truth! This is what the film is screaming at us. Both the victim and the perpetrator need treatment. Handcuffs and throwing away the key is not the one-size-fit-all remedy. Psychiatric medical research coupled with viable mental illness diagnosis and recovery must marry, so that both victims of rape can heal.