“These days, relationships with neighbors can get very complicated.”
In Paris, a nebbishy Polish man (Roman Polanski) rents the apartment of a woman who has recently committed suicide. Soon he becomes convinced that his neighbors are trying to turn him into the dead woman.
Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:
- Black Comedy
- Downward Spiral
- Living Nightmare
- Melvyn Douglas Films
- Mental Illness
- Psychological Horror
- Roman Polanski Films
- Shelley Winters Films
Response to Peary’s Review:
As Peary notes, this “disturbing psychological horror film” (directed by and starring Roman Polanski) is much more interesting during its first half, as we watch “Polanski’s paranoia regarding [his] neighbors” intensifying, and witness his profound sense of persecution as an ethnic “outsider” in France. Unfortunately, the second half of the film turns into an “unsettling and ridiculous” exploration of Polanski’s descent into madness; as Peary notes, the “transition is too quick” once Polanski suddenly starts dressing like a woman, and we lose interest because — now that Polanski’s character is clearly mentally unstable — we start to question the veracity of the entire story. Indeed, fans on IMDb have engaged in countless debates over what’s “real” or not in the story — and though this kind of narrative ambiguity sometimes works in a film’s favor, here I found it more frustrating than enjoyable. As always, Polanski’s production values are excellent, and he elicits wonderfully quirky performances from his cast of supporting actors; it’s too bad their voices are horribly dubbed.
Redeeming Qualities and Moments:
- Isabelle Adjani as Stella, a friend of the deceased tenant
- Shelley Winters in a bit role as The Concierge
- Sven Nykvist’s cinematography
Yes, simply for its cult status.