This was my second time seeing this and I have to say that watching it a second time, after watching Repulsion for the first time, I was not as into this film as I once was. I think this film is great but when you compare it to Repulsion or Rosemary’s Baby, this one stands out as the weakest one in my opinion.
That being said I think this film has a ton of great moments to it. This movie does mess with your mind and I love that about it. There’s this fantastic scene where Polanski walks from one end of the room to the other but as he crosses the room everything starts getting bigger so by the time he’s on the other side he looks like some kind of weird child. I think the other solid moment of the film is the climax, I won’t spoil anything but I think Polanski does a perfect job at making scenes feel extremely surreal.
Check this out for sure but make sure you watch Repulsion and Rosemary’s Baby as well!
I definitely have mixed feelings about The Tenant. It had some really great images and moments but overall kind of fell flat to me.
It’s about Trelkovsky (Roman Polanski) who rents an apartment in Paris (which was confusing because a good number of the actors, like Shelley Winters, are Americans with American accents, and a lot of the side characters are obviously dubbed in English by Americans). Everyone in the building, from the landlord to the tenants, are insane about how the apartment building is kept and how quiet everyone needs to be. They’re always on Trelkovsky’s case, even though he’s very quiet. Trelkovsky finds out that the former tenant, Simone, tried to kill herself by jumping out of her window and he meets her friend Stella (Isabelle Adjani) when he visits her in the hospital. Things get weirder as time passes: everyone in Trelkovsky’s building seems to get crazier, Trelkovsky finds a tooth in a hole in the wall, and he can see his neighbors across the street standing totally still for hours. Around this time is when the movie started to lose me.
At one point, Trelkovsky finds one of Simone’s dresses in the apartment. I jokingly predicted that Trelkovsky was eventually going to wear the dress, but it turns out that that’s exactly what happened. Trelkovsky buys a wig and shoes and dresses up like Simone, complete with makeup, and sits in his apartment. Up to this point, we’ve pretty much seen everything from Trelkovsky’s perspective. But then it gets more disjointed; we start to see what’s really happening and what Trelkovsky thinks is happening, which increasingly become different things. He sees the landlord and other tenants as being more evil than they are and has crazy visions. At one point he realizes he’s missing a tooth and finds it in the wall (presumably put there by himself). He starts to believe his neighbors are trying to turn him into Simone, and eventually he too jumps out the window in a failed attempt at suicide.
My main issue is why did Trelkovsky go crazy. Was he like that from the beginning and it just unraveled? Was there something maybe supernatural about the apartment? Was he driven crazy by his neighbors? It’s never made clear, and maybe it doesn’t matter but it certainly mattered to me. It was really distracting and eventually made me not care about following Trelkovsky because after a certain point it was clear he was insane and was going to jump out of the window like Simone, but without context as to why it was happening I just sort of lost interest.
The Tenant has some great moments, like Trelkovsky envisioning his entire neighborhood outside and cheering for him when he decides to jump out of the window. And the tooth thing was super creepy and really perfect. But I think The Tenant lacks a bit in the storytelling department, which is surprising considering this came after both Repulsion and Rosemary’s Baby. Not Polanski’s best movie, but worth seeing.