THE TENANT, 1976
Cast: Roman Polanski, Isabelle Adjani, Melvyn Douglas, Jo Van Fleet, Bernard Fresson
In Paris, the shy bureaucrat Trelkovsky rents an old apartment without bathroom where the previous tenant, the Egyptologist Simone Choule, committed suicide. The unfriendly concierge (Shelley Winters) and the tough landlord Mr. Zy establish stringent rules of behavior and Trekovsky feels ridden by his neighbors. Meanwhile he visits Simone in the hospital and befriends her girlfriend Stella. After the death of Simone, Trekovsky feels obsessed for her and believes his landlord and neighbors are plotting a scheme to force him to also commit suicide.
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In another chilling look at apartment life, Roman Polanski directs the 1976 psychological thriller; The Tenant. Trelkowski looks like just a regular guy, (played by Polanski himself) who is searching for a new apartment. He finds one place that he really likes, however there is one troubling problem with the apartment... the previous tenant Simone, attempted to kill herself and is lying in resuscitation in the local hospital. One immediately troubling aspect of this, is that the glass pane which she jumped through still has yet to be fixed. And his landlord to be, Madame Dioz, shows him the broken glass pane almost as if it's an amenity of the apartment. However this "amenity" offered, will only come back to haunt him.
Trelkowski feels compelled enough to visit the previous tenant in her hospital room where he encounters a friend of hers, Stella, and they then proceed to go to a dinner, talk about Simone, then have a romantic encounter in a movie theater. Trelkowski starts to notice some very weird things going on. What starts to unravel at this moment, are these little seemingly innocuous details in the film that remain undefined. You are discovering these details along with Trelkowski, and becoming more and more confused and distracted, similar to how the character feels.
Incidentally, I was recently watching an episode of the British sitcom, "Black Books", and in one particular episode, a locksmith comes by to the book store. The Locksmith (played by Nick Frost), starts to get to work and then Manny notices something in his hair. The camera does a zoom into an extreme close-up to reveal that the locksmith has a tiny action figure of a wrestler in his hair.You never get an explanation. You are jut left in a dizzying amount of confusion (and in that case hilarity). But this kind of tactic, is exactly what The Tenant does.
Trelkowski takes his necessary precautions when it comes to the apartment and the fellow tenants, but they seem very hostile and weird. Polanski really plays around with how we are in constant fear of what other thinks of us. We all feel like we are being watched, and Polanski only magnifies this by showing people watching Trelkowski while they are in the bathroom... Just standing there. Again Polanski shows us everything about his style, by characteristically showing his audience nothing. Treklowski's status anxiety (and his anxiety over being in good standing with his neighbors) begin to overwhelm him.
The last straw is when his apartment gets robbed, and the neighbor's accuse him of still making too much noise when, in this case, it was the robber who was making the noise. He then becomes much more angry in his daily activities. In a twist that completely obstructs any logical progression; well, it would be a disservice to the film and to you to do that. But I will tell you that Trelkowski undergoes a horrifying transformation.
Through out this film there are multiple shots that blur the line between fantasy and reality, but then there is a certain point where you don't know exactly which is which. These details (like the example of the aforementioned tiny toy wrestler) keep appearing and keep you guessing. Soon, along with Trelkowski you will be trying to piece together a puzzle, in which none of the pieces fit. Polanski again is seemingly the master at stirring the viewer's into a frenzy, and then leaves them devastated.