Director: Roman Polanski
Screenwriter: Gérard Brach, Roman Polanski
Starring: Roman Polanski, Isabelle Adjani, Melvyn Douglas, Jo Van Fleet
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 90%
Synopsis: “The Tenant is a 1976 psychological horror film directed by Roman Polanski, starring Polanski, Isabelle Adjani, Melvyn Douglas, and Shelley Winters. It is based upon the 1964 novel ‘Le locataire chimérique’ by Roland Topor.” – Wikipedia
Our Take: The Tenant is the final film of Roman Polanski’s unofficial trilogy (before The Tenant there was Rosemary’s Baby and before that there was Repulsion) about apartment dwellers mentally surrendering to the claustrophobic, creepy domestic environments that surround them.
Polanksi himself stars as Trelkovsky, a Polish-born French citizen who moves into an apartment in Paris when the previous tenant, Egyptologist Simone Choule, commits suicide. Unlike the other two films in the apartment trilogy, The Tenant never commits to clear answers; the unsettling occurrences may all be happening in Trelkovsky’s increasingly paranoid mind. Similarly, the tone of the film is ambiguous and motley. A particularly funny scene in which Trelkovsky visits a friend who inexplicably listens to music at an obnoxious level is neighboured by scenes of alarming horror. Many critics have compared The Tenant to the works of Franz Kafka, which is often epitomised by paranoia, sexual frustration, absurdity, guilt with a strain of bleak humour.
With cinematography from regular Ingmar Bergman collaborator Sven Nykvist and an unforgettable score by Philippe Sarde, The Tenant is a powerful illustration of Polanski’s uncanny knack for creating atmosphere. You may not know what draws you to The Tenant, but you will be drawn to it nonetheless.