Wednesday, February 04, 2015

"Rapt" (or "Abduction"): French crime drama explores "morality" enforced by kidnapping and extortion


When I pick films that are a few years old for this review blog, I like to find films (usually on Netflix) that present some difficult or challenging issue that doesn’t get clearcut coverage.
  
The 2009 French drama “Rapt” (“Abduction”, directed by Lucas Belvaux, actually shot in the coastal Flanders town of Ostend, Belgium, presents the unpleasant idea of a rich industrialist getting kidnapped and then getting blamed, or at least treated with suspicion when released, because he somehow has it coming to him.  It’s the “watch your back” mentality that the radical Left presents with glee. It used to be taken for granted in American mob movies, but the idea is becoming more apparent with foreign extremists, whether religious (Islam), communist (North Korea or even China) or nationalistic (Russia).  The area where it was filmed is getting more attention in the news now as Europe’s terror problem.
  
The protagonist is a corporate board chairman Stanislas Graff (Yvan Attal).  One day he is brutally kidnapped by force, the incident starting with a fake motorcycle crash in front of his limo.  Perhaps that scenes plays into security concerns that executives vary their routes. 
  
You could say that the rest of the 2-hour film, the ransom mess, is about what his life is worth, to others, and the idea is nasty.  (The tagline is “Paying the ransom won’t bury his secrets.”)  The kidnappers chop off a pinkie finger and mail it back.  After messy complications with the company board, family and police, the kidnappers release him, after he signs some IOU notes.  They say he will get instructions as to how to pay them in the mail in envelopes marked “Calypso” (the Greek goddess who imprisoned her husband Odysseus).  If he does not pay, a family member will be murdered and he will be held (morally) responsible.

When he gets out, his skeletons fly out of the woodwork.  His dog still dearly loves him.  But media reports talk about his cheating on his wife and his gambling debts.  The company wants him to step down.  The wife will divorce.  It seems that the company has been unwilling to pay the ransom, believing that he might have set up his own kidnapping to cover gambling debts.  The money was taken from his own pension setup. 
  
Everyone thinks he’s starting over, still rich.  But then he gets one of those “Calypso” envelopes as the movie ends.
  
There’s a goof in the movie.  The finger seems to have grown back in one scene, along with very meager chest hair. 
  
Given the life I’ve led, I could say I would never put myself in a position with a “Calypso”.  I don’t “protect” other people.  But it might be a choice for a lot of people. Evasion could be seen as “cowardly”.  I don’t think ransom could ever be paid for me;  it’s either be rescued by police or die.  In a home invasion in Connecticut in 2007, one of the convicted killers told the doctor, who survived, that he was a “coward” for escaping and not saving the others from the criminal.  This is a strange kind of personal warfare. That’s my reaction when I see media companies push this kind of plot for “entertainment”. I don't know if we have a vocabulary word for morality enforced by extortion. 
  
  
The official site is here  from Diaphana and Kino Lorber.
  
The film apparently had very limited theatrical release in the US but is available on Netflix instant play.  
  
Wikipedia attribution link for Ostend, Belgium picture photo by Marc Ryckaert, Creative Commons Share-Alike 3.0 unported Wikimedia license 

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