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Film Review: RAPTURE: A Disturbing Look at Fear and its Dire Consequences [Locarno 2023]


Rapture Review

Rapture / Rimdogittanga (2023) Film Review from the 76th Annual Locarno Film Festival, a movie written and directed by Dominic Megam Sangma and starring Celestine K. Sangma, Handam R. Marak, Nadira N. Sangma, Balsrame A. Sangma and Torikhu A. Sangma.

Dominic Megam Sangma’s disturbing new Garo language film (from India and China), Rapture, is a work of art that demonstrates a powerful portrait of fear and how that emotion can overcome the integrity of a group of people. This film features several central characters who bring the themes of the film into view through some sequences which are quite compelling although, at times, very difficult to watch. There is an underlying meaning to the story the movie presents which requires viewers to read between the lines of what could be real versus what is actually real.

This film is mostly set in a village and, at times, revolves around a 10-year old boy with a cleft lip named Kasan (Torikhu A. Sangma) who has “evening blindness.” His mother (Nadira H. Sangma) is supportive of Kasan but a lot more is going on than meets the eye. The other central character is a pastor (Celestine K. Sangma). His church awaits a Virgin Mary statue which will serve as a symbol of hope in a time when a prophecy of 80 days of darkness seems to be looming over the villagers.

The pastor creates interesting sermons which seem to inspire some of the villagers in different ways but there is a secret within the village that could be casting false light on the lives that are being lived there. This is the type of movie that the less you know, the better. There is the possibility of a kidnapping of a young person or two which takes place that has a lot to do with the revelations that the plot has in store for its audience. When we see a foreseer who predicts that a kid is alive (but knows little else), it raises questions as to the child’s whereabouts.

There is also a subplot involving the supposed existence of people who take organs from kids which adds extra mystery to the movie leaving audiences to wonder what is real and what is not. Kasan doesn’t shy away from his quest to learn more about his surroundings but he may push too far in regards to what other villagers are expecting from him.

One scene has a woman explaining to the pastor how she interprets his words from his sermons and he looks to embrace this lady for her kind words. This woman has sneakily sent a boy outside so the pastor doesn’t see him right behind his back, though. Another scene has characters wearing masks and is set in a cave. It’s a very frightening scene as the audience awaits to see what the outcome of it will be. There are also disturbing scenes of people being hit and beaten down by characters in the movie. These scenes are quite frightening and the revelations they present are enough to make for a fearlessly thought-provoking series of dramatic events.

The pastor eventually yearns to escape the village and counts money he has accumulated in his endeavors as he makes his way to flee. But, will he manage to escape the hell world which he has found himself accustomed to? This movie makes the answer disturbing but certainly makes some valid points about the consequences of the pastor’s actions.

The last shot of this movie is a long shot and makes for a remarkable scene in the way it captures all the intensity and urgency of the themes the movie so delicately presents. Without giving too much away, the characters will all face a fate which was unpredictable and the results of overwhelming fear will soon come to a boiling point, if you will.

Rapture is a compelling film. The pastor is excellently and authentically portrayed by Celestine K. Sangma who adds tremendous depth to his character and the boy, Kasan, is well-conceived as a character and the catalyst through which the movie tells its story. Though these two characters are at the core of the movie, they are also properly supported by the performers playing the other villagers, all of whom are believable in their roles.

As the movie is definitely eye-opening, it’s also quite easy to get lost in its story line. Sometimes, the strong visuals take precedence over the logistics of the plot. There are definitive answers to some of the questions the movie raises but some plot threads are left open-ended. At over two hours, it also feels overlong as well. Nevertheless, Rapture is the type of dark film that gets under the viewer’s skin and will be a film that will not easily be forgotten by those brave enough to view it.

Rating: 7/10

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