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Kidnapping drama grabs attention, holds interest

Yvan Attal plays a powerful French businessman and Anne Consigny portrays his wife in Lucas Belvaux’s “Rapt.’’ Yvan Attal plays a powerful French businessman and Anne Consigny portrays his wife in Lucas Belvaux’s “Rapt.’’
By Mark Feeney
Globe Staff / September 16, 2011

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"Rapt’’ is the French word for kidnapping. In its simplicity and terseness, it’s an ideal title for Lucas Belvaux’s very good film about a high-powered abduction. “Rapt’’ is smooth, cool, and efficient. It’s a movie with very little wasted motion - or, for much of its length, wasted emotion.

Stanislas Graff (Yvan Attal) is an extremely rich, extremely important French businessman. How rich? The staircase alone of his Paris apartment is the size of a Park Avenue duplex. How important? He’s scheduled to accompany the French president on a state visit to China. And when he’s kidnapped, the ransom demand is 50 million euros.

Writer-director Belvaux goes back and forth from Graff in captivity to his family to his business associates to the police. Belvaux’s assured, gliding camera sees all while judging nothing. One of the kidnappers, who tries to strike up a conversation with Graff about their shared interest in hunting, may be the most sympathetic character in the movie. It’s either him or the plainclothesman assigned to Graff’s family whose muted intervention cuts off an ugly quarrel between wife and mother-in-law.

The shock of Graff’s kidnapping leads to revelations about gambling debts and infidelity. In a very different way, Graff’s wife (Anne Consigny) and daughters become captives, too. Without ever overplaying his hand, Belvaux blends elements of police procedural, family drama, and character study.

Attal goes from sleek imperviousness to baffled terror. As his beard and hair grow, he starts to look like Al Pacino in “Serpico.’’ This supreme insider comes to realize he’s actually an outsider. Consigny has to deal with a different sort of bafflement, whether her love can - or should - survive after what she has learned about her husband. The person kidnapped is only one of the crime’s victims. In a final twist, whose contrivance is redeemed by its being left unresolved, Belvaux suggests that no one kidnapped is ever truly rescued. It’s a thought as bleak, yet also as memorable, as the glimpse we get of the North Sea during a botched ransom transfer.

Mark Feeney can be reached at

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RAPT Written and directed by: Lucas Belvaux

Starring: Yvan Attal, Anne Consigny, Andre Marcon

At: Brattle Theatre

Running time: 120 minutes

In French, with English subtitles

Unrated (occasional French obscenities, a scene showing the removal of a finger)

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