Reviews

The Tenant

3

Roman Polanski casts himself as the Polish-born Trelkovsky, a naturalised Frenchman who rents a dilapidated apartment in a Parisian block. The previous occupant has committed suicide, plunging six floors out of the window. His neighbours, a craggy-faced bunch, continually complain about noise he isn't making. And people pass hours in the toilet across the courtyard, unmoving and glassy-eyed. Is it a plot to drive Trelkovsky to take his own life? Or is he slowly losing his marbles, spotting spooks through a fog of paranoia?

Fans of Polanski's earlier work will recognise this. Taking elements of Repulsion and Rosemary's Baby and putting them on spin (re)cycle, he again mainlines urban alienation to distressing effect. The trick, as ever, is tending to the details: Sven Nykvist's mulchy visuals capture every paint peel; grey skies offer zero relief from the sullied interiors; and a series of insidious discoveries - tooth in the wall, anyone? - foreshadow horrors to come. It's disturbing stuff. And that's before Polanski starts prancing around in a dress and stockings...

Yet The Tenant never quite reaches the sinister heights of its forebears. At times teetering on the histrionic, and occasionally requiring acting chops Polanski doesn't quite possess, its hooks slip free just as they're snagging under your skin. It prickles, then, but fails to leave lasting scars.

Film Details

  • tbc
  • UK Theatrical Release Date: April 1st 2004

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