A teenage girl Agnes (Gozzi) lives with her stern, controlling father (Douglas) and their housekeeper Karen (Lindblom) on the Brittany coast. Desperately lonely and emotionally unstable after the death of her mother, Agnes builds herself a scarecrow and fantasizes that it’s a real man. When escaped convict Joseph (Stockwell) takes refuge in their barn, Agnes is convinced that this stranger is the scarecrow come to life. Karen, Agnes and her father take Joseph in, but his presence in the house will have serious implications for everyone.
With stunning black and white cinematography by Marcel Grignon and a lush score by Georges Delerue, Guillermin triumphs with this dramatic marvel in an otherwise workman-like oeuvre. His Bergman-like camera movements, including extreme close-ups and askew angles, evoke the emotional state of his characters, especially Agnes, who seems to vacillate between childhood and maturity, sanity and madness. Young Gozzi brings off this challenging role beautifully, while acting veteran Douglas manages to portray a deep well of sadness beneath his bullying exterior. Stockwell also holds up his end admirably as the seductive interloper. This totally unique, re-discovered coming-of-age tale warrants greater appreciation and acknowledgement. Experience “Rapture.”