The Tenant

Of Roman Polanski’s noted apartment trilogy – which also includes Repulsion and Rosemary’s Baby, his 1976 capper The Tenant is often given the least attention, which is a shame as it may be his most personal and harrowing. A Kafkaesque descent into madness and paranoia, the film concerns the claustrophobic apartment-based interactions of a Parisian transplant, played by an uncredited Polanski himself, and the neighbors who may or may not be conspiring against him. Aside from the flop-sweat-inducing tension and palpable sense of escalating panic, the film is a dizzying whirlwind of subtext, both sexual and political – and the sort of perfectly focused tonal pastiche that only a master with Polanski’s skill could pull off. With Melvyn Douglas, Shelly Winters, a bewitching Isabelle Adjani, and a shock ending that is as hilarious as it is horrifying, The Tenant will take up permanent residency in your shattered nerves.

Dir. Roman Polanski, 1976, 35mm, 126 min.