Writer/director Lucas Belvaux's purposefully executed 2009 thriller is a thoughtful study in the corrupting effects of power and its blind fragility. Loosely based on the real-life kidnapping of millionaire bad-boy Edouard-Jean Empain in 1978, the film's oblique title refers to a self-absorbed French industrialist who finds time to ponder life's deeper priorities when he is kidnapped and tortured. Yvan Attal brilliantly portrays Stanislas Graff, an adulterous gambling egoist with a loving family held together by his forbearing wife Françoise (Anne Consigny). The wealthy family's resiliency is sorely tested. The tabloid press blow up every shred of scandalous indiscretion they can dig up as days turn into weeks. Pierre Milon's pinpoint-precise cinematography clicks to ramp up the tension. There are infinite layers of socially designed nuances at play. Graff's deadly serious kidnappers brutally establish the lengths they are willing to go to in order to extract an impossibly high ransom for their victim's not-so-safe return. Belvaux does a neat trick of playing with audience empathy. We are helplessly drawn into sympathizing with a capitalist pig whose greed far outshines that of his captors. Hypocrisy proves contagious as Graff's family members reveal their true colors throughout an ordeal that puts oxygen in a power vacuum. This is what it looks and feels like when the rich and powerful are brought low. "Rapt" lets you savor every second.
Unrated R. 125 mins. (B+) (Four Stars - out of five/no halves)
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