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 w... more »ith 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« less
Solo Goodspeed | Granada Hills, CA United States | 04/07/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"...... 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.With Polanski's new found recognition in a film industry that cautiously turned its back on him nearly 30 years ago, we are finally given a chance to see this forgotten treasure, and it's about time. I've read many comparisons to Taxi Driver, but the subtle supernatural implications found in The Tenant's more surreal moments remind me more of The Shining, wherein an alienated individual renders himself prone to dark, irrational powers by way of his own obsession. A quiet, well-paced primal scream of a movie, this number will definitely give the viewer a twisted chuckle, and more than a few shivers after it ends. A no-holds barred, lights out masterpiece."
ANOTHER GREAT CINEMATIC WORK - wanna know why?
Paulo Leite | Lisbon, Portugal | 08/07/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"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. Also a great achevement is sound design.This is one of those great films where mood and atmosphere set an exemple for what to do in a film - a work where everything is right.Unfortunately, the DVD only comes with the trailer (which is also beautiful). No photos, no commentary (I was hoping this DVD would come with a commentary by Mr.Polanski), not even a small interview with anybody. Too bad if you consider the quality of the craftsmanship of this work.But at this incredible low price... one cannot complaint."
A Polanski Masterpiece!!!
Max Cady | in a galaxy far, far away... | 07/09/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"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. And what happens with Trelkovsky's delusion is ultimately a funny but tragic climax. The first time I saw this film, I thought it was creepy and dark. But the more times I watched it even though it is still creepy and dark, I begin to realized more and more about Polanski's humorous intent. The tragic ending is just undeniably hilarious. I just start laughing out of control. Roman Polanski is one of my favorite filmmakers and The Tenant is his best. It is very fortunate that he played the protagonist in the film. The Tenant is truly a Polanski tour-de-force. The Tenant's score, which I really love, is simultaneosly hypnotic and tragic. (Ingmar Bergman's cinematographer, Sven Nykvist, is also doing the lighting.) Paramount did a great job with the DVD image quality of this Polanski film."
Nobody Does It To You Like Roman Polanski!
Steev Proteus | nowhere in particular | 05/25/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Roman Polanski's THE TENANT, released in 1976 (two years after his blockbuster CHINATOWN), is my all-time favorite movie. It isn't Polanski's best film (MACBETH gets that honor in my opinion), but this story (taken from Roland Topor's equally strange but less inspired novel) really "does it to me". Polanski himself (who also co-wrote the screenplay with long-time friend and collaborator Gerard Brach) plays Trelkowski, a timid, lonely Polish immigrant trying to make ends meet as a file clerk in Paris. Polanski's performace is genuinely amazing. There are not many actors, let alone directors, who would feel so comfortable playing such a difficult and potentially career-shattering role. In the film, Trelkowski finds an apartment in a dingy old building run by the oddly sinister Monsieur Zy (Melvyn Douglas) and a rude Concierge (Shelley Winters). The previous tenant, Simone Choule, attempted suicide by jumping out of the window. Monsieur Zy tells Trelkowski that if she dies, he may have the apartment. Trelkowski hot-foots it to the hospital to see how long it'll be before he can move in. Simone lies, semi-comatose, swathed in bandages like a mummy from head to toe. When she screams upon seeing Trelkowski's face, the head nurse demands that he and Stella (Isabelle Adjani), Simone's best friend, leave immediately. Trelkowski tries to initiate a half-hearted love affair with the frumpy Stella that evening, but they are unable to connect for some reason and go their seperate ways. The next day, Trelkowski learns of Simone's death. When he moves in, he begins to notice strange things: neighbors complain of noise, usually without cause; people seem to spy on him from the communal bathroom across the way; he finds a human tooth stashed in a hole in the wall behind his wardrobe; there are knocks on the door when no one is there; he is constantly bothered by neighbors who are either obnoxious (such as Jo Van Fleet) or pitiable (like Lila Kedrova). Eventually, surrounded by artifacts from the dead girl's life, and torn apart piece by piece by his increasingly demanding neighbors, Trelkowski slips into insanity, dressing in Simone's clothes, pulling out his own tooth to match the one lodged in the wall, and even purchasing a wig and high heels, intoning things like "I think I'm pregnant" to himself in the mirror. He begins to hallucinate, and his persecution complex turns into a severe case of schizophrenia. I won't tell you the ending, but I will say that if you enjoyed REPULSION and ROSEMARY'S BABY, then you will find this to be a fitting third piece of the puzzle. Like Carole and Rosemary in those films, poor Trelkowski is a victim of urban living, a pathetic lost soul not unlike Travis Bickle of Scorcese's TAXI DRIVER (released the same year), except that Trelkowski is a danger mostly to himself. Like I said, this isn't a great film, but it's worth your time if you enjoy horror films Polanski-style. And as a vision of one man's private hell, it's indispensable. I love this movie, flaws and all. Obviously not for all tastes."
BONE-CHILLING PSYCHOLOGICAL SHOCKER...
Mark Norvell | HOUSTON | 07/20/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Deliberately paced, ultimately gripping film about a seemingly nice, normal single man who moves into an apartment whose previous tenant, named Simone, committed suicide by jumping out the window. He meets her friend Stella (Isabelle Adjani) and finds himself unwittingly in the unfortunate girl's footsteps. Her brand of cigarettes, her favorite chocolate drink, her clothes and even her tooth (stuck in a hole in the wall) haunt him. No one seems to understand his concerns...least of all the difficult and bizarre tenants he's surrounded by who complain of his every move. He comes to believe it's a plot to drive him to suicide...like Simone. Roman Polanski (who co-wrote and also directed) is brilliant as Trelkovsky, the quiet tenant who's plunged into a nightmare that may or not be real. He's believable as an Everyman who suddenly finds himself alienated and in the grips of something he can't control. Is he going mad? Or is it...something else? Shelley Winters (as the concierge), Melvyn Douglas, Jo Van Fleet and Lila Kedrova as the other tenants contribute their considerable panache---making Trelkovsky's paranoic nightmare world even more sinister. A fascinating and haunting psychological journey that keeps you intrigued (and disturbed) right up until the final, bone-chilling scream. Not for every taste, but still "The Tenant" is pure cinema terror all the way. The DVD is a fine widescreen print that includes the original theatrical trailer. Even IT'S scary. Enjoy this macabre masterpiece. But I don't recommend watching it alone."