4 March 2006 | jluis1984
Brilliant psychological horror!
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