Rosemary's Baby

Rosemary's Baby ★★★★½

Boy, was I wrong.

When I went on Letterboxd to log this rewatch I found a three star rating staring at me. Sometimes I want to kick my 18 year old self in the nutsack and tell him to open his eyes.

Ira Levin's work should be appreciated more. He is a wonderful storyteller and Rosemary's baby is perhaps his finest work. Polanski's adaptation is a prime example of how a novel should be translated to film. He has distilled it to its core and read the atmosphere of the story perfectly. He focusses on character, invests in the protagonists and thus sucks the audience into the increasingly oppressive spiral of paranoia and madness.

The story is at its core short and simple, the best ones often are. Apart from perhaps the transition from act two to the final act, the story is presented to us without frills. The downside of this is that it does not hold that many surprises, but, and I find this to be a very rewarding experience, it does make is partners in crime with Polanski as he slowly torments his leading lady. We know exactly what is going on and that is what makes it so unsettling because we can't do anything about it. Polanski exploits this masterfully. There are these winks and nudges he gives us that are just brilliant. I'll give an example so if you haven't seen this, look away now.

The scene where Rosemary tells her husband that she is pregnant is brilliant, mainly because of how Polanski has Rosemary's husband react. It's subtle, but you can see the fear and disgust in his eyes and the way he handles himself. It's almost as if he's screaming at us: 'Look at what I did!' Fantastic bit of acting and directing.

Speaking of acting, the cast is uniformly excellent with the standouts being Farrow and Cassavetes. They carry the film with ease and are convincing in everything they do.

This is not a scary film, it is a purely atmospheric piece. It is also one of Polanski's best and it should be considered as one of the genre's greatest films. Now I'm off to invent time travel and ask 18 year old me what the hell he was thinking.

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