The Tenant (1976)
Written By: JR
Edited By: Grave Reviews Staff
Director: Roman Polanski
Producer: Hercules Bellville, Andrew Braunsberg, and Alain Sarde
Screenwriter: Gerard Brach and Roman Polanski
Date of release: May 24, 1976
Roman Polanski as Trelkovsky
Isabelle Adjani as Stella
Melvyn Douglas as Monsieur Zy
Jo Van Fleet as Madame Dioz
Bernard Fresson as Scope
Lila Kedroba as Madame Gaderian
Romain Bouteille as Simon
Rating = 4/5 Graves
***May contain some spoilers***
An isolated Eastern European immigrant, Trelkovsky rents an apartment in an old derelict building in Paris. His new neighbors start to regard him with suspicion and ill will, knocking every night at his door to settle made-up issues with him and with each other. He then learns that the previous tenant of his apartment, a woman of his age, has committed suicide by jumping out of the window. Trelkovsky begins to identify with her, gradually deteriorating to insanity. Even worse, he reaches to a conclusion that his neighbors are plotting to kill him, finding himself into a dangerous paranoia and strong urges to kill himself.
The Gore Factor
Roman Polanski is known for his flagrant mise en scène in horror and The Tenant does not come short of it. Although it is much more modest than the rape scene in Rosemary’s Baby, it grapples on figments of paranoia. Its madness does not center around the physical but on delusions and obsessions that are opaque. Then, it slowly leads to actual self-violence, worse, when Trelkovsky throws himself two times from his apartment window with spectating tenants, landlord, and the police.
The Grave Review
The Tenant (1976) is the last franchise of Roman Polanski’s Apartment Trilogy following Repulsion and Rosemary’s Baby. This trilogy has set itself apart from the commons through intertwining gender, subjectivity, and horror. Gender purses in the film through glitches of man-becoming-woman shifts that Trelkovvsky refuses and embraces. When it comes to subjectivity, you would get back-and-forth blinks from reality to Trelkovsky’s battering pipe dreams to the point that you will feel sorry for him. And through these ploys, Polanski puts the audience in an uncomfortable position.
Following an immigrant in a time when there was a shortage of apartments in Paris, which is also the case with Bernando Betolucci’s Last Tango in Paris, warrants the mental bruises sparked by alienation. Trelkovsky, played by Polanski himself, is eventually convinced that the building itself is malevolent after being bullied by intrusive neighbors, but actually he is wrong. They all just want a little quiet and his basic problem is that he is too timid to counter them. His inferior sense of self allows a vicious environment to take play.
Trelkovsky’s double suicide attempt at the finale, estranged with visions of applauding tenants in an imagined theatre while he is at the brink, is almost too much except that light efficient build-ups have made way for it. The scene comes off fancily orchestrated while being inevitable. Polanski’s genius has allowed for the grand scheme to unfold, and the audience are left to watch a painful but necessary end.
Overall, The Tenant displays a clear-eyed narrative discipline. Its cinematography has favorably taken the role of the narrator, directing attention to curious details. It rents out trails of thoughts that successfully blend what is real and what is not.
Because of the foregoing reasons, Grave Reviews gives The Tenant (1976) four graves out of five graves.
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