American Fable is ambitious, maybe too much so sometimes, but there's an intense pleasure in the boldness of the film's style.
In one way or another, I have been waiting for the apocalypse all of my life. Most people, I imagine, never think about it, and those who do probably fear it. Not me. I expect to be filled with joy during the final battle between good and evil, while those fearsome horsemen thunder through the sky - because at least then I'll know for sure that something exists beyond the material universe, and therefore it is possible to escape from death.
These days, I no longer really think of the end of the world in literal terms. I envy the faith of those who do. When I was in parochial school, the notion of Judgment Day filled me with a rush of danger, as I imagined the Lord evaluating billions of lifetimes, and then turning a particularly stern eye on a certain fifth-grader from Urbana, Illinois.
There have been dozens of movies that dealt in one way or another with the afterlife, with death and heaven and hell. But not until Michael Tolkin's "The Rapture" has there been a movie to seriously consider what the end of the world might be like, if the biblical prophecies turn out to be literally true. Here is one of the most radical, infuriating, engrossing, challenging movies I've ever seen. There are people who love it and many who hate it, but few who can remain on the sidelines. It's a film with the same ambiguity of the Thomas-Hill hearings; everyone sees the same thing, but nobody can agree on what it means. ("The Rapture" is set to open Nov. 8 at the Water Tower.) Walking into the movie for the first time, last Labor Day at the Telluride Film Festival, I hardly knew what to expect. Certainly not a film that began with casual sex, and ended with a literal depiction of a fundamentalist view of the apocalypse. All I knew of Michael Tolkin, who wrote and directed "The Rapture," was that he was also the author of The Player, a cold, brilliant novel about a Hollywood studio executive who commits a murder more or less by accident, and then deals with the guilt in passages of excruciating paranoia.
What did we have here? "The Rapture" opens with Mimi Rogers playing Sharon, a woman who works as a phone information operator.