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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.Read more ›
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.Read more ›
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.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Really unnerving, typical Polanski themes of madness and paranoia. One of his best, though I actually liked the book better.Published 10 days ago by A.L.
Still yet another film that awakens one to the harsh realities of life.Published 1 month ago by Kay F Gibbs
I've watched this many times over the last 38 years. Roman is the star of this movie, playing the role of psychologically disturbed Trelkovsky. Read morePublished 1 month ago by The Z Man
First of all, liking this movie doesn't mean I support Mr. Polanski's nefarious activities with underage girls. But, if you want a movie that is totally creepy and macabre... Read morePublished 2 months ago by B. Slama
The plot was kind of confusing. It also felt like a foreign film which makes sense considering it's French locale, but I had a difficult time following the characters' body... Read morePublished 3 months ago by Amazon Customer
When this movie was first released in 1976 it was given very good reviews - I watched then and really forgot about it until recently when I decided to watch it again. Read morePublished 5 months ago by sam
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