Trelkovsky (Roman Polanski) is the awkward, mousey new tenant of an apartment which has recently been vacated by its previous occupant - through the window. He begins to suspect that the people living around him have forced the woman to commit suicide, and plan on making him do the same.
Ever wanted to see famed moviemaker Roman Polanski dressed as a woman? Here's your chance. This odd film was scripted by the director and Gerard Brach, from a novel by Roland Topor. It is similar in some ways to Repulsion, but where Catherine Deneuve remained sympathetic in that film, in The Tenant it's obvious where the artless, doomed Trelkovsky will end up and the whole film comes off as a sick joke.
Most of the people he encounters are unfriendly: landlord Melvyn Douglas, concierge Shelley Winters, even one of his friends from work who insists on playing brass band music at full volume despite the protests of his neighbours. And if they're not unfriendly, they're creepy, like the old lady and the little girl who live upstairs. Everything seems designed to trample Trelkovsky into madness. Many of the hallucination sequences in the last half of the film are excellent, as is Sven Nykvist's cinematography, all enhancing the nightmarish quality. Watch for Michel Blanc in a bit part. Music by Philippe Sarde.
French-born Polish director who has been no stranger to tragedy - his mother died in a concentration camp, his pregnant wife, actress Sharon Tate, was murdered by the Manson family - or controversy - he was arrested for raping a 13-year-old girl in the late 1970s.
Polanski originally made an international impact with Knife in the Water, then left Poland to make Cul-de-Sac and Repulsion in Britain. More acclaim followed with Rosemary's Baby and Chinatown in Hollywood, but his work after escaping America has been inconsistent. At his best, he depicts the crueller side of humanity with a pitch black sense of humour. He also takes quirky acting roles occasionally.