Normally a great fan of Roman Polanski's work, I must confess that I just didn't get The Tenant. The story details a Pole living in Paris taking over the apartment of a woman who jumped out of the window of said apartment. The apartment has some strange power in it and quickly transforms the new tenant's life for the worse...in fact things literally fall apart for him. Polanski plays the Pole and does a serviceable job. I always thought he was a pretty decent actor. The people living in the apartment building are equally good and bizarre with Shelley Winters standing out as the concierge. Polanski also does a rather deft job behind the camera creating tension and a foreboding feeling in many scenes. What then is the problem? It has to be the weird script which hints at story lines and never really explains any of the action, particularly the ending. I just didn't buy the outcome. Why did it happen? Why was there a tooth in the wall(an effective scene if not an unexplained one)? I can't go into to much detail about the fate that befalls Polanski's character, but it seems to come out of nowhere. I know this film is revered by many as one of the great horror films of all time. I never was scared by anything except the convoluted plot being taken seriously. Maybe the film is trying to be too enigmatic and symbolic. I don't know, but what I do know is The Tenant left me with an unsatisfied feeling. It certainly isn't a bad film, but I didn't think it was great either. There were large tracts within that were just plain boring, and though Polanski is definitely one of the greatest directors of all time - he can and has been guilty of downplaying scenes too much. I can say the same for some of the scenes in Repulsion. I also believe that this film needs to be seen more than once, but I will definitely have to work up to that chore another time. As with much of Polanski's work, there is a dose of black humour laced throughout. I really enjoyed the scenes of Polanski's character seeing the woman who jumped out of the window in hospital almost completely covered with bandages. He visits not for concern for the girl but with hopes that she will die and he will land her apartment. These scenes are underlined with a very dark, amusing edge and an appropriate irony to the film's denouement.
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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 Trelkovsky feels ridden by his neighbors. Meanwhile he visits Simone in the hospital and befriends her girlfriend Stella. After the death of Simone, Trelkovsky 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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