The Tenant (Le locataire)

Wednesday, July 15, 2009 – 7:30pm
France 1976. Director: Roman Polanski
Cast: Roman Polanski, Isabelle Adjani, Shelley Winters, Melvyn Douglas, Jo Ann Fleet

The TenantThis macabre, made-in-France psychological horror film is often described as a remake of Repulsion with Polanski himself in the Catherine Deneuve role —although The Tenant is perhaps closer in spirit “to Kafka than to the earlier film’s bizarre admixture of Freud and Edgar Allan Poe” (Tom Milne). Polanski is Trelkovsky, the tenant of the title, a naturalized French citizen of Polish origin who takes over the lease of a gloomy Paris apartment after the previous tenant, a young woman, commits suicide. In a claustrophobic two-room flat where his every movement is observed, the mild-mannered Trelkovsky begins to suspect that his certifiably creepy neighbours are involved in a sinister plot to drive him to a similar fate. Everywhere he sees the menacing signs and symbols of malice. Even more alarming, he finds himself gradually assuming the identity — and donning the clothes — of the previous tenant. The oppressive forces bullying him in ways both overt and subtle cause Trelkovsky to retreat further and further into insanity, until his slow disintegration reaches its shocking conclusion. A very young Isabelle Adjani plays Stella, a woman who befriends Trelkovsky. The expert cinematography is by Swedish great Sven Nykvist. Colour, 35mm. 124 mins.

Post-screening discussion with Ramon Kubicek. A writer, artist, and educator, Ramon currently teaches film history as well as art and design history at Emily Carr University of Art and Design and Langara College. He has published essays, short fiction, poetry, criticism, and two books on art, including One Source: A Celebration of Spirit and Art.

“‘The Tenant’ displays the clear-eyed narative discipline of his early ‘Knife in the Water'” – New York Times | full review

“A true psychodrama…an exercise in urban paranoia and mental disintegration that echoes or anticipates everything from ‘Repulsion’ and ‘Rosemary’s Baby’ to ‘Bitter Moon’ and ‘The Pianist’.”  Village Voice | full review

View trailer