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Reviews & Ratings for
The Tenant More at IMDbPro »Le locataire (original title)

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Index 124 reviews in total 

119 out of 135 people found the following review useful:

The Art Of Terror

10/10
Author: alainbenoix from Paris, France
9 March 2007

Meek, tiny, almost insignificant. Polanski finds the invisibility of his characters and makes something enormous out of it. In front and behind the camera he creates one of the most uncomfortable masterpieces I had the pleasure to see and see and see again. It never let's me down. People, even people who know me pretty well, thought/think there was/is something wrong with me, based on my attraction, or I should say, devotion for "Le Locataire" They may be right, I don't know but there is something irresistibly enthralling within Polanski's darkness and I haven't even mentioned the humor. The mystery surrounding the apartment and the previous tenant, the mystery that takes over him and, naturally, us, me. That building populated by great old Academy Award winners: Melvyn Douglas, Shelley Winters, Jo Van Fleet, Lila Kedrova. For anyone who loves movies, this is compulsory viewing. One, two, three, many, many viewings.

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85 out of 97 people found the following review useful:

Anatomy of Insanity

Author: lkil from Oakland, California
4 September 2004

This is a wonderfully tense and intensely claustrophobic film with a slowly escalating and relentless psychologically terror. Roman Polanski stays true to his style from Rosemary's Baby and Repulsion. But this movie is more than a simple examination of the onset of insanity from within the person who is experiencing it. The theme of loneliness and the sense of purposeless petty existence are the real backdrop of this excellent work, the fact which makes it similar to Kubrick's Shining. Still, The Tenant has deeper literary roots. In my opinion, the inspiration for this movie came right from the great works of European literature -- the influence of Edgar A. Poe, E.T.A. Hoffmann and Nikolai Gogol is simply obvious. Poe's tales of madness out of loneliness, Hoffmann's stories of tragic delirium (most prominently, The Sandman, Majorat, and The Mines of Falun), and, of course, Gogol's eerie The Overcoat provided Polanski with the inspiration for this modern examination of the same topics.

Trelkovsky, a French citizen of Polish origin, is a nondescript and unassuming loner who moves into an apartment the previous occupant of which, a young woman, has thrown herself out of the window. The building is owned by the stern and ice-cold old man, who is hell bent on making sure his tenants do not make any noise and do not cause any trouble. He (and his underlings in the building) consider any sign of life to be "trouble." The old man spends much of his time enforcing a near-police-state-like order within the building. Undeniably, all kind of extremely weird things are going on in the building and I will not dwell on them. But it is the strange intrusiveness of the police-state which injects real terror into Trelkovsky's life. Faced with absurdity after absurdity, he makes some meek attempts to complain and ask for explanations: instead, noone is even ready to listen to him -- he is being treated like a piece of dirt practically by everyone.

It is also important that Trelkovsky's plunge into madness occurs suddenly and very abruptly. It seems almost like a psychological breakdown and a rebellion at the same time. He has lived the life of conformity, compliance, and quite resentment, never able to stand his ground or even establish his individual sovereignty. Trelkovksy's meekness is simply striking. His sudden and violent obsession with not letting "them" make him into the previous occupant of the flat is a pathological and concentrated reaction to the years of pent up passive aggression and anger. The infernal scream at the end of the film is the wild shout of anguish. In a certain sense, the completely unexpected finale of the film presents a huge puzzle which is not really intended to be resolved. But Polanski seems to be investing it with important symbolic meaning. This world is full of multiple Trelkovskys, little, unnoticeable people terrorized by their own sense of total insignificance. This is a vicious cycle of dependence between people's unconscious yet compulsive cruelty to each other and the tortured compliance with this cruelty by others.

This is an excellent, dark and captivating film in the best traditions of European psychological Gothic literature. I strongly recommend to watch this movie and take a look at Poe's, Hoffmann's and Gogol's stories.

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84 out of 101 people found the following review useful:

Brilliant psychological horror!

10/10
Author: José Luis Rivera Mendoza (jluis1984) from Mexico
4 March 2006

Roman Polanski is considered as one of the most important directors of our time, as the mind behind classics such as "Rosemary's Baby" and "Chinatown". Probably what makes Polanski's cinema a very interesting one is the fact that while he is capable of creating commercially attractive films such as the afore mentioned masterpieces, he is also fond of making low-key movies that are of a more personal nature. "Le Locataire", or "The Tenant", is one of those movies; a horror/suspense story about paranoia and obsession that is among his best works and probably among the best horror movies ever done.

Polanski himself plays Telkovsky, a young man looking for an apartment in France. When he finally finds one, he discovers that it is empty because the previous tenant, Simone Choule, attempted to kill herself by jumping out of the window. After Simone dies of the injuries, Trelkovsky begins to become obsessed with her, to the point of believing that her death was caused by the rest of the tenants in the building.

While sharing the same claustrophobic feeling of his other "apartment-themed" films ("Repulsion & "Rosemary's Baby"); this film focuses on the bizarre conspiracy that may or may not be entirely in Trelkovsky's head, the catastrophic effects the paranoia has on his mind, and the bizarre obsession he has with the previous tenant.

Trelkovsky's descend into darkness is portrayed perfectly by Polanski. While at first his performance seems odd and wooden, slowly one finds out that Polanski acts that way because Trelkovsky is meant to be acted that way; as a simpleton with almost no life, who traps himself in this maddening sub-world that happens to be inhabited by a collection of bizarre people. The supporting actors really gave life to the people in the building creating memorable characters that are very important for the success of the film.

Also, the beautiful cinematography Polanski employs in the film helps to increase the feeling of isolation, and gives life to the beautiful building that serves as cage for Trelkovsky. The haunting images Polanski uses to convey the feeling of confusion and madness are of a supernatural beauty that makes them both frightening and attractive.

If a flaw is to be found in the film, is that it is definitely a bit slow at first. this may sound like a turn-off but in fact the slow pace of the beginning works perfectly as it mimics Trelkovsky's own boring life and how gradually he enters a different realm. Also, the convoluted storyline is definitely not an easy one to understand due to the many complex layers it has. However, more than a flaw, it is a joy to face a thought-provoking plot like this one.

While "The Tenant" may not be for everyone, those interested in psychological horror and surreal story lines will be pleased by the experience. "Le Locataire" is really one of Roman Polanksi's masterpieces. 10/10

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56 out of 72 people found the following review useful:

ah...feel the alienation

9/10
Author: dr_foreman from Brooklyn, NY
17 January 2005

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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39 out of 51 people found the following review useful:

Creepy...as...hell...

10/10
Author: BroadswordCallinDannyBoy from Boston, MA
18 June 2004

This is one creepy movie. Creepier than anything David Lynch, and that shows what a great director Polanski is since this is not his usual type of work, and it is BRILLIANT.

It all starts of with Trelkovski moves into a tenement block in Paris. He soon learns that the previous tenant, a young woman, committed suicide and he believes the rest of the people living there drove her to it. He also believes that they are trying to do the same to him. What results is a amazing and frightening look at paranoia.

The whole production has classical horror written all over it: from the imagery to the music the viewer can feel poor Trelkovski's terror building up.

Are they all out to kill him? Or maybe just drive him mad? Is there a difference? Find out for yourself. 10/10

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32 out of 38 people found the following review useful:

"What right has my head to call itself me?"

8/10
Author: Steffi_P from Ruritania
31 October 2007

After his classic film noir homage Chinatown Roman Polanski returned to the themes that had given him his greatest hits in the 60s with this creepy psychological horror which, like Repulsion and Rosemary's Baby, deals with the paranoia and claustrophobia generated by apartment living.

Claustrophobic environments are the ones which Polanski is best at creating, and this has to be the most suffocating and confined picture he ever created. The emphasis on side walls and distant vanishing points is greater than ever, and even in the small number of exterior scenes the sky is rarely glimpsed. But The Tenant is not just confined spatially, but also in the intensity with which it focuses on its protagonist. Trelkovsky, played by Polanski himself is not only in every scene, he is in virtually every shot. When he is not on screen more often than not the camera becomes Trelkovsky's point of view. And of course almost everywhere he looks he sees his own reflection staring back at him in a mirror.

I can't think of any film that is more about the internalisation and solitude of one character. Some psychological thrillers, like M or Peeping Tom, manipulate us into feeling sorry for the mentally ill protagonist. Others, like Psycho, attempt in-depth scientific analysis of his mental condition. The Tenant fits into neither of these categories – it simply immerses us completely inside Trelkovsky's experience without demanding we actually understand or appreciate what is going on inside his head. We feel his paranoia and obsession even though it is constantly revealed to us that they are irrational.

Polanski was also a master of the slowly unfolding horror film. Often in his horrors there is an ambiguity as to whether there is actually anything sinister going on, but they are among the most effective at frightening audiences. Why? Precisely because they unfold so slowly and invest so much time in painstakingly setting up situations that they immerse the viewer in paranoia. A much later Polanski horror, The Ninth Gate is a bit of a mess plot-wise but at least it still manages to achieve that creeping sense of dread.

This is a rare chance to see Polanski himself in a major role. His talent in front of the camera was as good as behind it, and he is absolutely perfect as the meek Trelkovsky. Another standout performance is that of the all-too-often overlooked Shelley Winters as the concierge. In actual fact it is rather a stellar cast, although many of the familiar faces look out of place in this strange, Gothic European movie. Also sadly many of the French actors in supporting roles are atrociously dubbed in the English language version.

The Tenant is more polished and less pretentious than Repulsion, but it lacks the suspense and the character that make Rosemary's Baby so engrossing and entertaining. The Tenant is good, with no major flaws, and Polanski was really on top form as a director, but it's not among his most gripping works.

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35 out of 48 people found the following review useful:

Front Window

9/10
Author: tedg (tedg@FilmsFolded.com) from Virginia Beach
19 September 2008

I'm a pretty old dude, old enough to remember the taste of Oreos and Coke as they were 50-55 years ago, when every taste for a kid was fresh. I wish I have somehow set some aside then is some magical suspended locker, so that I could taste those things today. This magical locker might even have adjusted the fabric of the food to account for how I've drifted, physically and otherwise, a sort of dynamic chemistry of expectations. Over the half century, they would have had to adjust quite a bit, because you see I would have known that I set them aside. Eating one now would be a celebration of self and past, and story, and sense that would almost make the intervening years an anticipated reward.

I didn't have enough sense to do that with original Coke. And I couldn't have invented one of those magical psychic lockers — not then. But I did something almost as good. In the seventies, I really tuned into Roman Polanski. He was a strange and exotic pleasure — you know, movies smuggled out of the Soviet block. Movies so sensitive to beauty that you cry for weeks afterward. Movies that make you want to live with Polish women, one, and then deciding that they would be the last to get it.

Here's what I did. I took what I knew would be my favorite Polanski movie and set it aside. I did not watch it. I deferred until I thought I would be big enough to deserve it. Over the years, I would test myself, my ability to surround beauty and delineate it without occupying it. There probably are few Poles who have worked at this, practicing to deserve Chopin. Working to deserve womanness when I see it. Trying to get the inners from the edges.

Recently, I achieved something like assurance that it was time to pull this out. I already knew that I was already past the time when this would work optimally, because I had already seen and understood "9th Gate."

If you do not know this, it is about a man who innocently rents a room in which the previous tenant (about whom the story is named) jumped out the window, to die later after this man (played by Polanski) visits. What happens is that time folds and he becomes this woman. We are fooled into believing that he is merely mad. But the way we follow him, he is not. He merely has flashes that the world is normal, and that the surrounding people are not part of a coven warping his reality.

The story hardly matters. What matters is how Polanksi shapes this thing, both in the way he inhabits the eye that only makes edges and in inhabiting the body that only consists of confused flesh. The two never meet. There is a dissonance that may haunt me for the next 30 years. Its the idea about and inside and an outside with no edges at all — at all except a redhead wig.

I know of no one else that could do this, this sketch that remains a sketch, this horror that remains natural.

To understand the genius of this, you have to know one of the greatest films ever made; "Rear Window." The genius of that film is the post-noir notion that the camera shapes the world; that the viewer creates the story. What Roman does is take this movie and turn it inside out. In Rear Window, the idea was that the on-screen viewer (Jimmy Stewart) was the anchor and everything else was fiction, woven as we watched. Here, the on screen apartment dweller is the filmmaker. We know this. We know that everything we see is true because he is the narrator. We know it is true that bodies shift identity, that times shift, that causality is plastic. We know that the narrator will kill us. We know that the narrator will leave us in a perpetual horror, on that edge that he imputes but never shows us and lets us imagine.

Ted's Evaluation -- 4 of 3: Every cineliterate person should experience this.

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26 out of 33 people found the following review useful:

Paranoid Polanski in peril

8/10
Author: Jonny_Numb from Hellfudge, Pennsylvania
15 April 2006

What can be said, really... "The Tenant" is a first-class thriller wrought with equal amounts of suspense and full-blown paranoia. It's an intricately-plotted film--every detail seems included for a reason--even though the plot seldom makes sense, and much of it is never even addressed in an objective manner. Therefore we are left with the increasingly unstable Trelkovsky (Polanski)--a meek Polish man who has obtained an apartment due to the previous tenant's suicide--to guide us through a world of escalating fear and uncertainty. After an apartment-warming party thrown by a group of obnoxious coworkers, Trelkovsky comes under increased, seemingly inexplicable scrutiny by the fellow occupants in his building; the rest of the film chronicles his mental deterioration and gives us a thorough mindfu*k on par with the later efforts of David Lynch. "The Tenant," however, is more brooding and sinister, laced with unexpected comic relief, fine performances, and a truly haunting score. It's a movie that's better experienced than described, so hop to it.

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36 out of 54 people found the following review useful:

The muppet's Marlboro complot

Author: manuel-pestalozzi from Zurich, Switzerland
9 July 2003

This beautifully directed and photographed movie seems to be full of allusions. It demands attention and may be boring for people who just want plain action or a quick succession of blood curdling horror scenes. Some knowledge of art and film history is helpful here.

The cast is marvelous. You meet Shelley Winters as the concierge and Melvyn Douglas as the proprietor of an old apartment house in the midst of a moldy 19th century Parisian district. The two great veteran actors are used for what they are – icons. Every movie buff who likes The French Connection II will experience a pleasant feeling of "deja vu". The same actor who serves Gene Hackman's Popeye Doyle a whisky in a Marseilles bar and becomes his only buddy in France is now the waiter who brings the tenant a cup of cocoa in a Paris bar. He even wears the same wardrobe! The same can be said of French actor Bernard Fresson, Popeye's police contact in Marseilles. He plays the nasty, vulgar acquaintance of the tenant who wants to teach him how a tenant should behave. Polanski plays the kafkaesque main character himself. His performance impressed me very much, he is not only one of the most interesting directors I know but an immensely talented actor too.

The way people look in this movie reminded me very much of the Muppet show (incidentally the TV series was started the same year The Tenant was released). The characters are deliberately overdrawn and feel like caricatures (nobody more so than the sexy Isabelle Adjani character – not exactly a Miss Piggy but not too far from it either). The way they were made up and filmed gives them a strong puppet-like appearance. The apartment house is realistic yet it looks more like a doll house than the set of Hitchcock‘s Rear Window. Muppets pop out of their compartments and do things that are banal or mysterious.

The Tenant deals mainly with the main character's paranoia. The apartment house offers a look into the tenant's troubled mind. The movie comments on the effects of bigotry and indifference but also on the perception of an individual who may give wrong meanings to certain events. The situation allows the introduction of signs and objects with symbolic values. The director made full use of the possibilities the movie offered here. I could not say I understood the meaning of it all (e.g. the tenant slaps a kid in the face in a park for no apparent reason), but I am sure it does not really matter. The tenant thinks there is a complot against him and he sees all events in this light. Even the fact that the barkeeper has run out of his beloved Gauloises bleues and presses Marlboros on him instead he sees as part of a devilish plan!

Despite the finely tuned dark colors and the dark thoughts of the main character they reflect, The Tenant is surprisingly light. Some may call it sophisticated camp. This lightness which is achieved with a peculiar sense of humor seems to be a trademark of Polanski's movies. He persues his tactics to look for the absurd in the midst of horrors. The ending is very grotesque. Ashamedly I have to admit it: It made me laugh.

Somehow The Tenant borrows from Polanski's earlier film Repulsion. But it has more flourish. The choice and the use of real locations is very good. Some ideas of this movie were integrated in Polanski's later film Frantic, including Polanski's apparent love for Paris garbage men and their equipment. Whoever likes The Tenant should look for movies of Finnish director Aki Kaurismäki. They are in the same vein.

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27 out of 39 people found the following review useful:

A Kafkaesque thriller of alienation and paranoia

8/10
Author: christopher-underwood from Greenwich - London
12 February 2007

A Kafkaesque thriller of alienation and paranoia. Extremely well done and Polanski performs well as the diffident introvert trying hard to adapt to his dingy Paris lodgings and his fellow lodgers. Horrifying early on because of the seeming mean and self obsessed fellow tenants and horrifying later on as he develops his defences which will ultimately be his undoing. Personally I could have done without the cross dressing element but I accept the nod to Psycho and the fact that it had some logic, bearing in mind the storyline. Nevertheless it could have worked without and would have removed the slightly theatrical element, but then maybe that was intended because the courtyard certainly seems to take on the look of a theatre at the end. I can't help feel that there are more than a few of the director's own feelings of not being a 'real' Frenchman and Jewish to boot. Still, there is plenty to enjoy here including a fine performance from a gorgeous looking Isabelle Adjani and good old Shelly Winters is as reliable as ever.

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