The fact that there isn't a single likeable character in Cul de Sac does not diminish its artistic value in the least. Ageing, furtively kinky Donald Pleasence is married to sexy young Francoise Dorleac. The couple's hermitlike tranquility is shattered when wounded gangsters Jack MacGowan and Lionel Stander invade their home and hold them hostage. As Dorleac urges her tremulous husband to do something, the two criminals begin behaving in a fashion that can only inadequately be described as eccentric. Drawing upon two of Polanski's favorite themes-isolation and latent insanity--Cul de Sac actually improves upon each viewing, assuming that the viewer has the intestinal fortitude to sit through it once. … More
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Critic Reviews for Cul-de-Sac
As a study in kinky insanity, Cul-de-Sac creates a tingling atmosphere. This sags riskily at times when the director unturns the screws and does not keep control of his frequently introduced comedy.
If the subject matter is bleak and bitterly serious, the tone throughout is darkly comic, while the precise imagery effortlessly conveys the tension, the claustrophobia, and the madness of the situation.
After two clean hits -- Knife in the Water and Repulsion -- Roman Polanski is entitled to one wild swing.
This much sounds like a standard horror-film outline, especially since Stander looks amazingly like Frankenstein. But Polanski ignores the horror to concentrate instead on macabre humor.
Pristine deep-focus absurdism jolted by wide-angle twitches, utter despair treated with something akin to jolliness
Polanski tributes the [gangster-invasion film] by adding his own conceit: when there's no community worth salvaging, a threat will leave all involved floating, sans shoreline.
Polanski uses all kinds of off-kilter angles an close-ups and his actors are absolutely fearless. The pacing is a little off, as there are stretches where it gets a little long, but it upends convention at every turn and that s pretty thrilling.
pure Polanski through and through, made with no restraints and little outside influence, but it stumbles on its own absurdist tendencies, demonstrating how sometimes too much is too much
... as assured and as perfectly crafted as anything in Polanski's career, a miniature where every facet offers multiple reflections.
Neat little chiller with Polanski honing his abilities as a director and standout performances from Pleasence, Stander, and Dorleac.
I kind of expected the film to keep up some kind of momentum with a slam-bang beginning like that. It never slows down to a crawl, but it never gets as good as its first ten minutes.
Roman Polanski's character study is strange, creepy, and often compelling.
The troubled dynamic of a castle-bound couple is further distorted by the arrival of a gangster who is marginally less vile than Carol's phantom.
Tense, stylish and highly intriguing thriller laced with some purposefully nasty comedy.
Audience Reviews for Cul-de-Sac
Considered something of a hidden treasure for some time, this isn't exactly the holy grail of Polanski, but it's definitely a well made movie and interesting. The performances are all over the place and bizarre, but that's kind've one of the best things about it. It's a pretty simple home invasion plot, but the execution is where it gets interesting. I really like the offbeat style and the fact that it isn't as serious as it could be. The black and white cinematography is flawless and a reason alone to check this out.More
Roman Polanski's "Cul-De-Sac" is probably the most 'Polanski-ish' film the director has made. Every sensibility of the famed auteur is on display here. From the genre bending, to the mental games of imposition, to the stylish cinematography, to the loopy performances. "Cul-De-Sac" also delights in being non-comformative and always hiding it's true intentions. After all, this is more of an abstract art film than a piece of narrative cinema (maybe the most peculiar and obscure film he's made). What the film means seems to be a question Polanski is not concerned with. He once said "It's just a film...". If that's the case, why does it feel so decided and precise? Like everything we are meant to see is specially chosen? Polanski seems to suggest that his film is without a specific intent, which is odd. If that is what he really meant, then why did he fight for so long to get it made? Curious, indeed.
Whether "Cul-De-Sac" is utterly worthless, or, like I believe, tantalizingly alive inside it's mental threesome unreality, there is no denying it's a one of a kind motion picture.
This is an interesting comedy thriller from Polanski, one of my favourites of his. Really good, i highly recommend it.More
The best performance by the great Lionel Stander I've seen. Pleasance is good until Polanski pushes him to the nerd-level of Eddie Deezen. The best kind of theatrical staging of characters in the shots The movie asks what individuals become without their loyalties or when their loyalties are exposed as conveniences. But it doesn't ask it too well. It's a marital comedy by way of Beckett-Godot, where the cuckold is the funniest and last joke.More
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