Lucas Belvaux’s first U.S. release since the interlocking trilogy of On The Run, An Amazing Couple, and After Life, Rapt is less a thriller than a horror movie in which Yvan Attal’s dissolute industrialist is both monster and Final Girl. A profligate gambler and womanizer with a direct line to the French president, Attal seems to have it all, which makes him the ideal target for a gang of kidnappers looking to extort €50 million from his wife and colleagues. Their faces shrouded in balaclavas even when Attal is blinded by a pair of blacked-out goggles, the kidnappers quickly make their intentions clear by amputating his left middle finger at the second joint, leaving him with a bandaged stump to periodically dip in a bottle of antiseptic.
Attal is held prisoner in a camping tent set up in an otherwise bare basement, which links the fictional crime to the 1978 abduction of Édouard-Jean Empain, who was held captive for 63 days while the police and kidnappers conducted their increasingly fraught negotiations. But while Empain’s ransom was held up by the government’s hard-line approach, Attal’s is delayed by a combination of human fallacy and failing will. From the moment the crime becomes public, details start pouring forth about his less-than-sterling character, as well as the limits of a fortune previously thought bottomless. The company which bears his name is willing to part with€20 million—as a loan, mind—but that’s as far as they can, or will, go. “I thought we were richer than that,” his mother exclaims, turning up her nose at the piddling sum.
After several weeks, Attal is transferred to marginally more hospitable surroundings, and gains a more garrulous captor in Gérard Meylan, who engages him on the finer points of high-end hunting rifles. But he’s still mostly alone, left contemplating himself and his truncated finger in eerie long takes that drive home the emptiness inside and out. While the back-and-forth between various parties grows tiresome through repetition, Rapt rallies with a lengthy epilogue in which the aftermath of Attal’s ordeal proves more draining than the physical privation that preceded it.