Not another sequel to Jurassic Park, Judge David Johnson assures you. (Because "rapture" kind of sounds like "raptor." Get it? You see what I did there?)
Jesus loves you. Even if you're stupid.
As the Left Behind books grow in popularity, and the general foreboding of the end times increases (what with Ben Affleck's continuing movie career and Bill O'Reilly publishing a kids book), New Line is releasing this early '90s drama about the apocalypse, and how one woman reconciles the impending Rapture with her own, embryonic faith.
Facts of the Case
Sharon (Mimi Rogers, Dumb and Dumberer) lives two lives. By day, she works in seemingly the most stultifying job ever—a directory assistant for the phone company. She cuts loose at night however, cavorting around town with her boyfriend and perfecting the art of "swinging," i.e. sharing their beds with other couples. Or so I'm told, you know; not that I'm familiar with that, er…recently.
Anyway, one night she encounters Randy (David Duchovny, The X-Files), a nihilist and a proud hedonist. The two hit it off, and while their relationship is initially little else but a roll in the hay, topics of existentialism begin to surface in their conversations.
Sharon is going through a miniature existential crisis herself. Privy to the excited mutterings of her Christian coworkers with regards to the end of days, Sharon starts to question her life. A chance encounter with a strangely-tattooed woman, however, pushes her over the edge; and when some door-to-door evangelists come a-knocking, she dramatically converts to Christianity.
Jettisoning her former life, Sharon now devotes herself to Jesus, much to the consternation of her friends. With wide-eyed glee and a feathery new vocal tone, she spreads the good news to anyone she encounters, including the folks calling for directory assistance: "Do you know God? Isn't He great?"
She even convinces Randy to give her religious experience a shot, and in a matter of moments he adopts Christianity. The two eventually get married, have a child, and join a commune led by a mysterious young boy seemingly blessed with the powers of prophecy. He predicts the imminent end of the world, preparing his flock for The Rapture (the assumption into heaven of believers in the final days).
However, when a tragedy befalls Sharon's new family, she starts down a path of decision-making that may affect her chances of catching the Pearly Gate escalator, just when the pale horsemen are unleashed.
The Rapture reminded me of one of the many weenie Christian videos I watched as a young Sunday School-going kid. They served their purpose then, but the subjects and the approach were usually so cheesy and infantile that these days I'd prefer a 95 mph fastball to the throat. The Rapture takes this formula and mixes in some orgies, murder, apocalyptic imagery, and a testicle or two.
What the film did well was explore the dangerous ground that uninformed, immature faith can often tread. Rogers's performance is noteworthy as a dichotomy. As the vacuous, searching woman from the first third of the film, her Sharon evokes a tangible feeling of want, of utter, existential wanderlust. Her job is beyond tedious, and her nights are all she lives for. Her spiritual breakdown comes when those nights begin to lose their luster.
Following the conversion, and watching Sharon now breeze around with pie-plate eyes, I was constantly thinking: "cult member." And the actions she eventually takes to prove her love and faith for God certainly do little to disprove my reaction.
Up until the last ten minutes or so, my take on The Rapture was that it's a startling indictment of the dangerous influences of new faith. However, the movie takes a fairly bizarre turn at the end (one that Duchovny would feel more comfortable with as Agent Mulder), and the narrative loses its muscle, trading in a serious meditation on the mysteries of faith for some seriously wacky Left Behind moments. The film lost me there.
Speaking as an Evangelical myself, I agree somewhat with the rendering of a brand-new Christian in The Rapture—a person infused with a boisterous kind of love (maybe not as wispy as Sharon, but to some degree)—and the tenuous ground that this malleable soul can traverse. The statements made in the film, particularly in the relationship between Sharon and her daughter, are potent and useful.
Personally, I don't buy into the eschatology the film embraces (the word "Rapture" isn't even used in the Bible, but now is not the time or place for a theological rant), but I found Armageddon used primarily as a backdrop here; a foil to tease out the perils of dangerous faith.
Again, New Line comes through with decent treatments of even obscure movies. A sharp 2.35:1 widescreen transfer and two 5.1 digital mixes (Dolby and DTS) are well-done and well-appreciated. Despite these discs' notable technical merits, the extras tend to falter, and The Rapture continues the trend, with only some New Line weblinks. However, if I had to choose, I'd go with style over substance, and prefer a sound audio/visual treatment.
Beneath some goofiness lies a thought-provoking film on Christian faith. Recommended (but not for kids).
The accused is deemed not guilty and spared a trip to the Lake of Fire and a visit by the Whore of Babylon.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: New Line
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