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Cul-de-Sac (1966)

tomatometer

60

Average Rating: 6/10
Critic Reviews: 5
Fresh: 3 | Rotten: 2

No consensus yet.

audience

80

liked it
Average Rating: 3.7/5
User Ratings: 4,067

My Rating

Movie Info

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

Aug 16, 2011

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All Critics (21) | Top Critics (6) | Fresh (17) | Rotten (3) | DVD (5)

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.

March 26, 2009 Full Review Source: Variety
Variety
Top Critic IconTop Critic

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.

February 9, 2006 Full Review Source: Time Out
Time Out
Top Critic IconTop Critic

After two clean hits -- Knife in the Water and Repulsion -- Roman Polanski is entitled to one wild swing.

May 9, 2005 Full Review Source: New York Times
New York Times
Top Critic IconTop Critic

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.

October 23, 2004 Full Review Source: Chicago Sun-Times
Chicago Sun-Times
Top Critic IconTop Critic

One of the best and purest of all his works.

September 6, 2003 Full Review Source: Chicago Reader
Chicago Reader
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Pristine deep-focus absurdism jolted by wide-angle twitches, utter despair treated with something akin to jolliness

November 18, 2013 Full Review Source: CinePassion
CinePassion

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.

October 27, 2011 Full Review Source: Film International
Film International

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.

October 27, 2011 Full Review Source: Scene-Stealers.com
Scene-Stealers.com

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

August 31, 2011 Full Review Source: Q Network Film Desk
Q Network Film Desk

... as assured and as perfectly crafted as anything in Polanski's career, a miniature where every facet offers multiple reflections.

August 22, 2011 Full Review Source: Parallax View
Parallax View

It's an actor's pic, where plot is insignificant.

July 21, 2011 Full Review Source: Ozus' World Movie Reviews
Ozus' World Movie Reviews

Neat little chiller with Polanski honing his abilities as a director and standout performances from Pleasence, Stander, and Dorleac.

February 18, 2010 Full Review Source: TV Guide's Movie Guide
TV Guide's Movie Guide

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.

May 26, 2006 Full Review Source: Combustible Celluloid
Combustible Celluloid

Roman Polanski's character study is strange, creepy, and often compelling.

September 22, 2005 Full Review Source: Filmcritic.com
Filmcritic.com

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.

April 9, 2004 Full Review Source: eye WEEKLY
eye WEEKLY

At once bitterly funny and deeply disturbing.

January 21, 2004 Full Review Source: Mountain Xpress (Asheville, NC)
Mountain Xpress (Asheville, NC)

Tense, stylish and highly intriguing thriller laced with some purposefully nasty comedy.

September 6, 2003 Full Review Source: Film4
Film4

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.
January 13, 2014
ythelastman89

Super Reviewer

This is an interesting comedy thriller from Polanski, one of my favourites of his. Really good, i highly recommend it.
December 7, 2010
ajv2688

Super Reviewer

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.
April 26, 2010
adammahler1

Super Reviewer

    1. George: Get the hell out of my fortress!
    – Submitted by Jean M (3 years ago)
    1. Richard: Here we are.
    2. Albert: Where?
    3. Richard: In this shit.
    – Submitted by Jean M (3 years ago)
    1. Little Nicholas: That froggy bitch pulled my ear off!
    2. Mr. Fairweather: Here, here, here! Who taught you to speak like that?
    3. Little Nicholas: Mum did!
    – Submitted by Jean M (3 years ago)
View all quotes (3)

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