The Rapture is one strange movie. It begins like a soft-core porn you’d use to find on Skinemax. It even has the sets and a young David Duchovny appears during his Red Shoe Diaries days. It then transitions into a faith movie before spiraling down into a psychological thriller and ending as a drama about blind religious faith versus freewill.
It’s not great as a whole, but there are bits and pieces that make it watchable. Sharon (Mimi Rogers) plays a telephone operator in Los Angeles who has a mundane job where her job becomes so routine you can see the boredom in her face. Her nights are usually spent with her lover, Vic (Patrick Bauchau), a furniture business owner, cruising around bars and nightclubs looking for couples who want to swing. One of these couples includes Randy (Duchovny) who she later carries on having sex with.
But she’s bored. Her apartment is bland. She sits in the breakroom listening to her co-workers who are religious congegrate and talk amongst themselves. One day, two young missionaries show up at her apartment door. She immediately shuts the door on then, then opens it back up to talk with them a little. Later, her and Vic hook up with a couple. She begins fascinated with a tattoo the woman, Angie (Carole Davis), has on her back that includes a big pearl.
Sharon later talks with her co-workers and she’s told that the pearl is a sign that most people see when they know they have found God and let Christ in their lives. Eventually, Sharon becomes a born-again Christian claiming to have seen a vision of the pearl. She cuts off her relationship with Vic who doesn’t understand and tries to talk to Randy about it but he at first doesn’t remember her name.
Realizing that God wants her to spread the word, she’s more jovial at work, asking all callers if they have found God and Christ. Her supervisor, Henry (Dick Anthony Williams), speaks with her as her call times are longer and she opens up how she feels this is the way to spread the word. But Henry is very religious himself and invites her to his church where the congregation is very focused on the Rapture and End Times.
Eventually, Sharon is able to get Randy to change his lifestyle. They get married, have a daughter and things look pretty normal as they are the typical nuclear family with a strong Christian grounding. However, one day, Randy is killed along with other people at his office by a disgruntled worker that had been terminated. Questioning the benevolence of God, Sharon decides the End Times are near and God has called her and her daughter, Mary (Kimberly Cullum), to go out to the desert to await the Rapture.
With litle to no food or water, they go out to the desert and wait. But they end up waiting an unspecified time as they get hungry and discouraged. A sheriff’s deputy Foster (Will Patton) shows care and concern for them as he stops by after seeing them there for days. What happens next I won’t mention because the movie turns into a pseudo-psychological thriller as it makes us believe Sharon has gone mad.
But the movie ends with another twist and a question on whether our faith is more important than our freewill. Why didn’t God stop Randy and the others from being killed? Sharon becomes angry at God for all the things that happened. A scene involving Sharon and Mary plays similar to Abraham and his son. It’s a movie that leaves you wondering if someone who turns their life around but gets angry following some harsh cruelty can’t be accepted into Heaven but an atheist who accepts God seconds before the end will go to Heaven what’s the point?
The movie is written and directed by Michael Tolkin who was raised Jewish and Rogers was a practicing Scientologist at the time. The Rapture isn’t even mentioned in the Bible but became part of Christian faith in the 19th Century. Some Biblical scholars have considered the Book of Revelations to actually refer to the fall of the Roman Empire and the 1,000 years of darkness was the period between the fall and the Renaissance. Some churches and congregation don’t even preach End Times or even the concept of Hell. Considering the Bible wasn’t even printed on paper until the 1450s, we don’t really know what to believe. And then it wasn’t printed into English until 1611.
We really don’t know what was left out, what was altered or what was lost in translation over many centuries of being rewritten and reprinted. The Rapture walks a fine line between critique of and appreciation for Christian faith. The sect Sharon follows is one that believes in the End Times so naturally, she would be more focused on reaching Heaven later. It also questions where does child abuse come into the fold. Would Foster have been more helpful if Sharon was just a homeless drifter? At what point, do you look at a grown woman out in a desert park with a child as someone who may need psychological treatment? Foster claims to be an atheist but he isn’t quick to criticize Sharon’s beliefs. I think this is Tolkin trying to dispel myths of of atheists Christians have created.
Both Rogers and Patton are the highlights of the movie. Duchovny does what he can but his character is too underwritten. It would’ve been better had Sharon tried to change Vic and succeeded only for something bad to happen. But I think at the heart of the movie is the realization that some atheists might secretly believe in God but choose not to practice while those that do practice Christianity or any religion are the ones who can never be satisfied. Maybe God isn’t the answer for some people and it’s the one who say they are Christians.
Part of the problem with the movie is its budget is a factor. Made for only $3 million and distributed through Fine Line Features, a defunct section of New Line Cinema that focused on more arthouse movies, it looks cheap at times. I don’t think this is intentional because many Christian faith movies look cheap and has bad acting like this movie. It’s mainly Tolkin’s direction and the availability of resources. It’s probably why Tolkin has only directed another movie after this while he has more writing credits, including the brilliant The Player, but that was directed by Robert Altman.
Given the movie’s structure, it could have been a lot worse. But I feel with a little more money, it could have been a wonderful movie.
What do you think? Please comment.