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The Rapture (1991)

Updated on April 22, 2012

Entry

Film Poster
Film Poster

For Thinkers Only

"The Rapture" is an "out there," kind of film. It deals with religious, moral and theological issues. It isn't meant to be a popcorn-munching film. I had to watch the film three times before I got where I am, so there's a word of caution. It's not an easy film to dissect, and it does take some contemplation, some inner-dialogue, and intellectual analysis. This was not a big hit when it was released on a limited circuit, and because it never received any marketing, even the DVD resides at the back of a dusty corner.

Mimi (Sharon) at the Call Center

Destruction of the Soul Through Tedium
Destruction of the Soul Through Tedium

The Story Begins

The story's focus is on a troubled woman named Sharon (played marvelously by Mimi Rogers) who has a day job as a telephone directory assistant. The work is shown to be incredibly repetitive and thus personality-killing.

At night she sheds all forms of modesty, as she and her male partner scour the club/bar scenes for a couple to invite into switch-around sex. We see Mimi and her partner's success, with a young, adventurous couple (one of whom is played by David Duchovny -- of "The X-Files" and "Californication" TV fame).

Sharon seems liberated by exhibitionism and spontaneous sexual coupling -- one figures as a compensation for the dullness of her job at the phone company. This split personality works well until she is visited by a pair of young Mormon gentlemen at her door. She invites them in and they have a brief conversation about religion -- wherein we learn that Sharon has no religious leanings whatsoever.

The torrid night life is insufficient to offset her empty existence, so Sharon becomes self-destructive and attempts suicide, but fails.

She has a quizzical dream about a shining pearl and doesn't know what to make of it, and the ambiguity is disturbing to her.

At work she overhears a few of her co-workers talking about the "pearl" and the "boy." She approaches them for some insight, but doesn't get far.

Eventually, she is allowed to join what appears to be a very select, "chosen" group of people who have had the pearl dream, and Sharon is introduced to the boy, who is akin to a modern-day prophet.

All of this gives her a great sense of joy and fellowship. At her phone job, she randomly asks people if they have let Jesus Christ into their lives. Despite a warning from her supervisor, she continues then is terminated.

But, the David Duchovny character re-enters her life and they wed. He too becomes a kind of Born-Again Christian. Together they have a daughter.

Duchovny

David Duchovny as Sharon's Eventual Husband
David Duchovny as Sharon's Eventual Husband

Following the Path

Duchovny is senseless slain one day at his job by a psychopathic ex-employee, causing tremendous grievance to Sharon and her daughter. Sharon's despair is lifted one afternoon when she looks through the window of an automated photo-mart and sees picture after picture of her dead husband standing somewhere out in the desert (business suit and all). She takes this information to "the boy" who first discourages her from pursuing anything connected with the pictures, as they may be tricks of the devil, but Sharon persists that the pictures are prophetic, and the "boy" acquiesces, giving her allowance or permission to go to the desert to see if God is indeed calling her. Sharon wraps up her daughter, telling her she is going to see her father again, along with maybe two weeks of camping provisions. Thus, they head out into the desert, with hope in their hearts and little else to guide them.

Prayer

Sharon and Her Daughter Offering Prayers
Sharon and Her Daughter Offering Prayers

The Desert

Upon reaching the desert, they spend the majority of their days on their knees, praying in silence. After some weeks of this, with no sign of God calling upon them, a local sheriff, checks in on them from time to time.

After another passage of time passes, and Sharon and her daughter are at a starvation point, Sharon somehow takes God's silence as a sign that she must take matters into her own hands. Absent God's rapture or any sign of her dead husband, in her weakened and distraught frame of mind, Sharon decides that God wants her to kill her daughter and then take her own life -- as this is the only way she can leave the earthly realm and enter the world of the spirit.

With great difficulty, she manages to shoot her daughter, killing her. Sharon then puts the gun to her own head but cannot pull the trigger. Realizing she hasn't the strength to take her own life, she condemns God for making her take away her daughter. Half dead, the sheriff finds her alone at her campsite. He asks about Sharon's daughter, and through tears Sharon admits that she shot her because she thought this was what God had requested. The sheriff is dumbstruck but realizes he has to bring her in for lock-up.

Once she is behind bars, the actual Biblical Apocalypse occurs, and all the metal bars fall to the ground. The sheriff finds Sharon and they wander out of the station.

Everything becomes very misty/cloudy then Sharon finds herself standing on the edge of a chasm. Her daughter is on the other side and beckons Sharon to join her, to join God, but Sharon refuses. She feels that the sacrifice that God made her make (in killing her daughter) and her ensuing torment is not something she can forget. She confesses that she no longer has any love for such a God. Despite her daughter's pleadings, Sharon remains on the other side of the chasm, which is indicated as a kind of purgatory -- a place where souls may or may not make amends with God. By the look of things Sharon will be given an eternity to change her mind, but the viewer senses that that alteration of attitude may never occur.

Mimi and Daughter Waiting For God

In the Desert
In the Desert

Conclusion

Certainly not everything is entirely settled at the end of the picture. And there are several spots in the film that could stand reinforcement of one kind or another.

However, overall, the film attempts to convey a complex relationship with God through the character, Sharon. She has no need for a God, then she does, then again she doesn't.

One could also look upon Sharon as a heavy-duty nut case -- especially at the point where she shoots her own daughter.

From my perspective, she is imbalanced from the onset -- accepting a mundane job then countering it with sexual promiscuity, then becoming a devoted Christian (or even a zealot), then to once again find no use in God or his eternal salvation.

It's a story for people who wrestle with faith, for theologians, atheists, agnostics, and even firm believers. Each group will walk away with a differing opinion -- and this seems to be perfectly fine as far as the director is concerned. The film is noteworthy because it stirs up the religious pot and possibly causes some people to look upon Christianity with an altered viewpoint.

I simply enjoyed the amazing performance of Mimi Rogers and the odd balance/imbalance between the physical world and that of the supernatural.

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      anonymous 5 years ago

      This was a compelling and confusing movie but well worth the chance. Good review!

      Stan Reese

      author of "Relax Dad, It's Just the Kitchen"