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Review: The Tenant (‘76)
April 11, 2013Posted by on
Among three other films in Roman Polanski’s loose trilogy centering on apartment life is The Tenant (the other two being Rosemary’s Baby, ‘68 and Repulsion, ‘65). These films are what thrillers are made of. You can’t criticize this film. Bruce Campbell even claims that this is one of his favorite films of all time! We will put aside aside Polanski’s scandal and delve into this masters cinematic direction. I love this film and so should you!
The film follows Trelkovsky (Roman Polanski stars in the lead role and director also, a killer combo if you ask me) who is moving into a new apartment, in which the previous tenant had just committed suicide via 3 story jump. To me, the film is already interesting because Polanski comes at this film from a different perspective than current American thrillers. To say the least, the film is very French and European. It is quiet in the beginning, and I believed it to be slow until I realized an hour had passed when I first checked the time! Trelkovsky wonders what happened to the former tenant and investigates the mystery. Stella is then introduced as the former tenant’s friend and claims no one knows why the former tenant committed suicide. Trelkovsky soon believes that the other residents drove the previous tenant to suicide. Are the other tenants truly full of malice? Is there something deeper than what Trelkovsky sees? Is he simply going mad? These questions remain to the viewer long after the film ends.
Polanski is the shy main character with a French accent on this English language. I really like his shy talk but quick wit. He is very young in this film. The female supporting character, Stella (Isabelle Adjani), is eclectic and beautiful. In addition, it may not be popular or healthy but there is an abundance of cigarette smoking. Not to the extent of Cigarettes & Coffee (’93) but enough to make this film feel dated. These are the times when everyone smoked. It certainly stands out and I can appreciate it because I still believe smoking shows a certain sophistication when done with responsibility and maturity. The other supporting characters fall right in line as Trelkovsky accuses each one of a possible murder case. Most of the other characters are aged and I tend to believe that aged actors are able to easily place themselves in any movie and put in a solid performance.
I love Polanski’s films. I’ve seen many and I’ve enjoyed each one. For example, his last one, Carnage (’11), was absolutely brilliant! Have you seen it?! Intense, yet, laugh out loud funny. It plays out in a single room with Christoph Waltz (from Django), Jodie Foster, John C. Reilly, and Kate Winslet. It is certainly a must see if you haven’t been introduced to Roman Polanski. In addition, you remember that this is the 3rd of a loose trilogy? The previous films were just as suspenseful and very related since they could have taken place in the same complex.
The thrill of this film is strong. It is not a horror in the sense of blood and gore, but horror in the sense of OMG are they insane? The twist ending is crazy and I’m still left on edge. What happened?! Am I supposed to be sad? I love an ending leaving me full of questions. Similar to the question, is Rick Deckard an android? Anyways… this film isn’t easy to find. I had to interlibrary loan it so if you run across it on Netflix or what not, give it shot. It’s well worth it. Thanks for reading. 5/5