Based on the true story of the kidnapping of Baron Édouard-Jean Empain in 1978, the 2009 French thriller Rapt (directed by Lucas Belvaux) illustrates in a painfully realistic manner the devastating downward spiral of a successful self-centered life.
Main character Stanislas Graff (Yvan Attal) is presented as a rich, powerful corporate president. Stanislas’ average day seems to consist of board meetings, fooling around with a mistress in the afternoon, gambling unlimited amounts of money at night and still finding time for dinner with the wife and kids. It’s routine, and neither he nor anyone else appears to be bothered by it. From the amount of money he’s able to blow, it’s understandable why his kidnappers target him for 50 million euros.
The kidnapping itself is flawlessly schemed. Throughout the hostage situation, the audience begins to learn more about his business partner, Peyrac (André Marcon), his lawyer, Walser (Alex Descas), but mostly about his wife, Françoise (Anne Consigny). Being as supportive as possible, she discovers in the least sentimental way about her husband’s other secret worlds, full of adultery, gambling and money squandering over the past 15 years.
What was initially supposed to be a quick kidnapping and ransom standoff becomes a long, drawn-out situation that lasts two months. Although Stanislas’ lifestyle of debauchery and corruption is exposed by the media, his disappearance becomes last week’s news.
This film is a well-executed performance evoking enough room for philosophical thought on justice, and further questioning of justice. The one flaw is that this French thriller is not very thrilling. The crime itself and the ideas presented show a clear message that even the victim is at fault in some degree, and overall, the kidnapping is not a simple good-guy, bad-guy case. Once the main action is over with, watching Stanislas sit in a dirty tent eating baguettes for two months simply isn’t that exciting.
‘Rapt’ screens Friday, March 23 at 7pm and Sunday, March 25 at 4pm at SSU’s Sonoma Film Institute. 1801 E. Cotati Ave., Rohnert Park. $4–$6. 707.664.2606.