With Easter weekend just gone, Reel Life looks at one of the most powerful and controversial religious films of recent times.
The Rapture is a story of a young woman, Sharon, an LA call-centre operator by day and a sexual adventuress by night. She has a gaping void in her soul (partly due to the relentless monotony of her job) and in desperate attempts to fill it with something, hunts for new, exciting and dangerous experiences to bring meaning to her life. Each sexual encounter, however, pulls her deeper into despair, isolation and purposelessness.
After a particularly harrowing incident, she turns to the bible for help, dreams of a mystical pearl, and is saved.
Five years later, married and with a young daughter, she is a Millenarianist, happy in her faith and life. However, tragedy suddenly strikes and her rigid fundamentalist foundations start to break down as she questions God’s actions.
Images of a dead loved one start to appear, compelling her to flee into the desert to await The Rapture, the end of days when all will be judged in the eyes of God. But as time drags on and The Rapture doesn’t appear, her faith is tested to its limits with devastating and horrific consequences.
While the film deals with many themes - loss, hopelessness, joy, salvation - it does not preach to its audience, whether Christian or otherwise. There is no anti-religion/pro-religion agenda (although Michael Tolkin, the writer/director is a committed Christian).
However, I should warn anyone thinking of watching this that it is not an easy experience. It is about as un-Hollywood as it gets - there are scenes here that have haunted me for years yet despite its low-budget (this is about emotions and thoughts, not spectacle) - it tackles religion head-on without looking away, and makes heavyweight pictures such as The Passion of The Christ look positively cowardly by comparison.
Questions litter the mind long after the terrible final frame has faded to black. How can a God of limitless love exist in a world of such misery and horror? Is Sharon a representation of the Whore of Babylon? Is atheism a more morally right choice than Christianity? How can I let God into my heart? Who forgives God for his sins?
It also contains one of the finest performances from an actress I have ever seen. Mimi Rogers, a B-lister who seems to specialise in erotic dramas (which this, on release, was mistakenly advertised as), makes Sharon into a hugely complex character, cynical yet needy, resilient yet frail, courageous yet terrified. She takes on an immense challenge and carries the film on her shoulders with remarkable conviction and bravery.
Whatever your religious leaning, as long as you go into The Rapture with an open mind, it can be a truly rewarding experience. Just don’t expect an easy ride along the way.