A young couple moves in to an apartment only to be surrounded by peculiar neighbors and occurrences. When the wife becomes mysteriously pregnant, paranoia over the safety of her unborn child begins to control her life.
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. Written by
Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
The picture featured four Academy Award winning actors when made and released which were Lila Kedrova (Best Actress in a Supporting Role for Zorba the Greek (1964)), Jo Van Fleet (Best Actress in a Supporting Role for East of Eden (1955)), Melvyn Douglas (Best Actor in a Supporting Role for Hud (1963)), and Shelley Winters (Best Actress in a Supporting Role for both A Patch of Blue (1965) and The Diary of Anne Frank (1959)). Afterwards, Melvyn Douglas won another Oscar in the same category for Being There (1979). All of the acting Oscar winning actors appearing in this film have won their Academy Awards in Best Supporting Acting categories. Later, Polanski would win a Best Director Oscar himself for The Pianist (2002) but has not won an Oscar for acting. See more »
When Trelkovsky is unpacking as he moves into the apartment, a crew member is reflected in the small mirror adjacent to the kitchen sink. Two crew members are then reflected in the armoire's mirror as Trelkovsky opens it. See more »
If you cut off my head, what would I say... Me and my head, or me and my body? What right has my head to call itself me?
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The film has no end credits; only the Paramount logo. See more »
I once lived with a roommate who attempted suicide, and our apartment was in a building where you could get a fifty dollar noise violation for sneezing after midnight - so, needless to say, I can easily relate to Polanski's "The Tenant."
But I also enjoy the film for other reasons. I'm not sure that it works, on the whole - the Polanski character's descent into paranoia and madness, which takes up the final half hour or so, seems rather jarring and bizarre. Ebert, for one, was totally unconvinced, and he slapped the movie with a vicious one-star review. But I think that individual scenes and moments work beautifully, so even though I don't quite understand the whole film - what does Egyptology have to do with it, for example? - I still have an overall positive impression of it.
I love the obnoxious friend portrayed by Bernard Fresson, for example. God, how many times have I settled for having stupid friends like that instead of no friends at all! I love the movie theater scene - the funniest "making out" moment in the history of film, I'd say. And boy, do I love Isabelle Adjani - she's so foxy in this movie, it's almost unbelievable. And she gives a great performance, as always.
Polanski is a good actor, too; I don't agree with the occasional disparaging remarks made about his performance here. His character is supposed to be low-key and thoughtful, so his low-key performance fits. I, for one, found him perfectly sympathetic - though he did lose me a bit when he started dressed in drag for no clearly discernible reason.
Yes, the movie's obscure. And slow. But it captures the alienating qualities of apartment living - something I've done entirely too much of - so I dig it. It's funny how all you need is a common reference point, and suddenly a weirdo movie like this becomes deeply significant! Definitely worth picking up for pocket change on DVD.
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