20 November 2014

The Tenant (1976)
126 min.
Directed by Roman Polanski.
With Roman Polanski, Isabelle Adjani, Shelley Winters, Melvyn Douglas, Jo Van Fleet, Lila Kedrova, Claude Dauphin, Bernard Fresson.
Reworking many of the themes from his previous works Repulsion (1965) and Rosemary's Baby (1968) - namely paranoia, schizophrenia, isolation - The Tenant proves to be another first class effort from genre director Polanski.

This time, Roman jumps in *front* of the camera to play shy business clerk Trelkovsky who rents a Paris apartment where the previous tenant committed suicide.

Soon, he's plagued by a series of bizarre events: visions of mysterious strangers watching him from the floor's communal bathroom window, utterly weird conversations with his neighbors, a combative relationship with the building's concierge (Winters).

Could it all have something to do with the ghost of the previous occupant? Is Trelkovsky slowly losing his mind? If so, is it part of some intentional plot?

Seems to us that it must take a very talented director to pull off entire films featuring lead characters with ever-increasing mental imbalances - an effectively slow buildup to insanity - and Polanski absolutely perfected the art form.

This one is a must-see; Polanski delivers a wonderful performance, while the supporting cast boasts a top notch roster of some of the best character actors. Adjani is terrific as Polanski's girlfriend Stella, and Douglas and Winters are in fine form as his (imagined?) adversaries.

No one will be admitted during the bone-crunching finale...

Filmed entirely in France, and also known as Le locataire.

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