Rapture [1991]

Once upon a time, in the 1980s and early 1990s, American independent movies did not seek to merely ape Hollywood formulas. They were more than just feature-length resumes for shrewd, enterprising filmmakers who had nothing to say, but dreamed of saying it with a big-studio budget. Back then, independent films provided a different kind of movie experience; they challenged and provoked audiences--and none more so than 1991's The Rapture, written and directed by Michael Tolkin, the man who wrote the screenplay for The Player, Robert Altman's scathing anti-Hollywood comedy. Mimi Rogers plays Sharon, a lost soul who gives up her hedonistic life of sex and drugs when she finds God and becomes a fundamentalist Christian fanatic. Her pilgrim's progress, presented in a deadpan, nonjudgmental style, culminates quite literally in the title event--the Second Coming, the Apocalypse, the end of the world, or whatever you want to call it. Rogers's fearless performance becomes all the more provocative when you recall that the actress is a lifelong member of the Church of Scientology. The Rapture is a mind-boggling, wildly ambitious movie that's open to myriad interpretations. But no matter what you make of it, it's sure to leave you engaged and shaken. --Jim Emerson

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