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The Tenant


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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

After the triumph of Chinatown, Roman Polanski's The Tenant marked an unsettling return to the horrifying psychodrama of Repulsion and Rosemary's Baby. As in those previous films, Polanski explores a descent into madness with s

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After the triumph of Chinatown, Roman Polanski's The Tenant marked an unsettling return to the horrifying psychodrama of Repulsion and Rosemary's Baby. As in those previous films, Polanski explores a descent into madness with subtle, deliberate pacing and keen attention to accumulating details. Cannily casting himself in the title role, Polanski plays the mild-mannered occupant of a Parisian flat previously rented by a woman who committed suicide by leaping from her upper-floor balcony. The woman's leftover belongings and the harsh attitudes of disapproving neighbors (including Melvin Douglas and Shelley Winters) begin to grate on the new tenant's psyche; his paranoia shifts from simmering anxiety to full-blown psychosis, until fate itself seems to run in a complete, tragically tormenting circle. Polanski masters the material as only he could, and despite some critical drubbing at the time of its release, The Tenant has earned a place among Polanski's finest films. --Jeff Shannon

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Product Details

  • Actors: Roman Polanski, Isabelle Adjani, Melvyn Douglas, Jo Van Fleet, Bernard Fresson
  • Directors: Roman Polanski
  • Writers: Roman Polanski, Gérard Brach, Roland Topor
  • Producers: Alain Sarde, Andrew Braunsberg, Hercules Bellville
  • Format: Anamorphic, Closed-captioned, Color, Subtitled, Widescreen, NTSC
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono), French (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono)
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: R (Restricted)
  • Studio: Paramount
  • DVD Release Date: July 1, 2003
  • Run Time: 126 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (95 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000069I09
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #17,223 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "The Tenant" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

63 of 69 people found the following review helpful By Solo Goodspeed on April 6, 2003
Format: DVD
...... or, "Pardon Me, But Your Teeth Are In My Wall."
There are differing views on this somewhat small film, but I think in the big picture of RP's filmmaking career, The Tenant will stand out as his most personal work. If you know anything about this man's life, what he went through (and what he was about to go through, a scandal that caused him to flee the U.S.), the events in this very darkly humorous tale become all the more haunting.
The basic story: a socially awkward clerk moves in to an apartment previously occupied by a young woman who just died from injuries sustained by hurtling herself from that very apartment window. What he doesn't realize is that, by his moving in, the stage has been set for him to inherit the very miserable despair that possessed the former tenant. In the course of his solitary tenency, he hears disturbing sounds, sees strange things inside and outside his flat, and encounters inexplicable hostility from others in the building. Over time, he becomes increasingly unnerved and obsessed, incapable of controlling his own behavior, and the line between reality and delusion ultimately dissolves, giving way to psychosis.
This dark ride is not without Polanski's trademark warped, absurdist humor, and one gets a sense from sharing the deteriorating experience of his self-portrayed protagonist that he himself was trying to find a way to laugh at his own miseries and fears. This could be a therapeutic element of this film; by watching the ridiculously hopeless and wretched scenario unfold, hopefully we can laugh at our own vulnerabilities, while at the same time seeing that element in other peoples' callous behavior that drives others into such a state.
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39 of 43 people found the following review helpful By Max Cady on July 9, 2002
Format: DVD
Paranoia. Alienation. Suicide. These are the themes of Roman Polanski's 1976 film, The Tenant. The film is tragically funny and creepy. Polanski's use of space in the apartment and the dark lighting invokes a creepy atmosphere.
The film follows a timid file clerk named Trelkovsky--played brilliantly by Roman Polanski himself--who moves into an apartment whose previous tenant, a woman named Simone, attempted suicide by jumping out of the window. He is informed by the landlord that he can rent the apartment only if Simone dies. With the hopes of her death, Trelkovsky visits her in the hospital by pretending and lying to the nurse that he is a friend. He meets Estella (Esabelle Adjani), a real friend visiting, next to Simone's bed. When he witnesses Simone lying on the bed wrapped with white bandages from head to toe like a mummy, Simone unloads a haunting scream--as if she is vengefully passing her curse to Trelkovsky. Her scream would echoe and follow Trelkovsky when he immediately leaves the hospital with Estella. After hearing of her death, Trelkovsky celebratingly moves into the apartment where his paranoia and downfall begins.
This film is one of my all-time favorites because it belongs in that "man in his room" category. There are only a few films out there like it. I think I can only name a few such as Martin Scorsese's Taxi Driver, Vampire's Kiss, Love Object, or the French film, I Stand Alone. What I mean by "man in his room" is existential loneliness like the protagonist in Jean-Paul Sartre's Nausea. The person is isolated in his space and is left with only to reflect or create his own world. In Trelkovsky's case, he creates a world of conspiracy in which the other tenants in the apartment are trying to make him commit suicide.
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43 of 49 people found the following review helpful By Paulo Leite on August 7, 2003
Format: DVD
In CHINATOWN, Polanski gave us a great story of corruption. In ROSEMARY'S BABY, he studied the occult. In REPULSION, he gave us a portrait of a troubled mind. Here, in THE TENANT, Roman Polanski gives us a stunning new portrayal of absolute paranoia.
Polanski stars himself as the main character: a man who rents the apartment of a dead woman - who apparently jumped from her window.
Strangely enough, Polanski's character starts to identify with the dead woman little by little as he starts to live in the same environment... the same apartment, the same neighbours, the same window, the same talk... and - guess what! - maybe she did not commit suicide after all...
But this is just the beginning. To reveal more, it would be unthinkable.
Why is this a great film? A first rate screenplay (beautifully constructed), amazing actors (Shelley Winters and Melvyn Douglas are great!), and...
...The sets! The bulding (a parisian quartier) is absolutely fantastic. Like REAR WINDOW, it was entirely built in a sound stage - incredible!!! - allowing Mr.Polanski enough freedom to put the camera wherever he wanted.
But the great thing about this film is that (like in a state of paranoia) you never know what is truth or what is imagined. The main character starts to see, hear and discover things that may actually be true! - only at the end (with a finalle that makes perfect sense) you'll discover the truth behind it all.
After those beautiful sets, comes the cinematography by one of the top Directors of Photography: Sven Nykvist (PERSONA, CRIMES AND MISDEMEANORS, ANOTHER WOMAN, CRIES AND WHISPERS, AUTUMN SONATA, and many other works)... this film has one of the best studio cinematographies I have ever seen. The music is also beautiful and you will love it from the moment it begins.
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