Monday, 21 March 2011

Review of The Tennant

The Tenant (1976) is the third film of Roman Polanski's Apartment trilogy. The thriller takes place in 60's/70's Paris. A quiet man Trelkovsky (Polanski) moves into a shabby Paris apartment that recently belonged to the recently diseased Simone Choule who commited suicide by throwing herself out of the apartment window. Trelkovsky soon discovers the hostility of his fellow neighbours towards any noise. He becomes psychologically wrapped up in Simones old life... going to the cafe on the corner and sitting in her seat, drinking her same order and smoking her same brand of cigerettes. Eventually he even dons her old clothes and secretly dresses like her at night. Convinsed the other tenants are manipulating him and trying to infact turn him into Simone he throws himself out the window in the same manner (twice) to end up in the same bed at the same hospital with the same injuries.

Many elements of this film all join together to build the tension and mystery of this thriller/drama. The opening title sequence with the grey tones used sets the atmosphere of the apartment we will explore further during the film. A readily used image is of poeple peering through their windows from behind the curtain also showing the audience that the building is reaped with paranoia and suspicion.

Trelkovsky as a protagonist is very weak, defensless and pitiful. Immediatly the audience empathise with him which is crusial to become frustrated by his impending psychological downfall. He is obviously haunted by Simone's story as told to him by the concierge, He regularly stares down at the hole in the glass roof beneath his balcony (where she fell) Other characters he encounters seem to all react in a similar fashion once he anounces he is living in Simone's old apartment, they treat him like Simone. The cafe owner gives him her order of hot chocolate instead of coffee and throughout the film insists that he smokes her brand of cigerettes instead of his own. His mental state crumbles under the pressure of the requirements of his demanding neighbours, they taunt him even through dreams and hilusinations.

Polanski uses a great deal of diagetic sound to enhance Trelkovsky's isolation and lonliness within this haunting apartment such as dripping taps, the moan of the water pipes and creeking floorboards.

One Image that haunts both Trelkovsky and the audience is the image of Simone's almost entirly bandaged face screaming in the hospital. An image seen a few times throughout the movie but ironically is is the last image seen in the film but of Trelkovsky in the same situation after his attempt at suicide. The bandaged face unnerves people because it is a lack of identity stripping the character of their recognisable features. The scream is a typical horror feature created to shock and strike fear into those watching (and listening)

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