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The Tenant

The Tenant (1976)



Average Rating: 7.8/10
Reviews Counted: 30
Fresh: 27 | Rotten: 3

A rough-edged thriller that lacks the precision of Polanski's best work, but makes up for it with its skillful mounting of paranoia, dread, and dark themes.


Average Rating: 5.9/10
Critic Reviews: 6
Fresh: 4 | Rotten: 2

A rough-edged thriller that lacks the precision of Polanski's best work, but makes up for it with its skillful mounting of paranoia, dread, and dark themes.



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Average Rating: 4/5
User Ratings: 10,583

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Movie Info

Director Roman Polanski casts himself in the lead of the psychological thriller The Tenant. Trelkovsky (Polanski) rents an apartment in a spooky old residential building, where his neighbors -- mostly old recluses -- eye him with suspicious contempt. Upon discovering that the apartment's previous tenant, a beautiful young woman, jumped from the window in a suicide attempt, Trelkovsky begins obsessing over the dead woman. Growing increasingly paranoid, Trelkovsky convinces himself that his

Jul 1, 2003

Paramount Pictures

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All Critics (30) | Top Critics (6) | Fresh (27) | Rotten (3) | DVD (12)

It has a humorous tang, underlying the macabre.

October 18, 2008 Full Review Source: Variety
Top Critic IconTop Critic

As the plot escalates into increasingly arbitrary excesses of fantasy and heads for the predictable pay-off, the movie looks more and more like a potboiler.

June 24, 2006 Full Review Source: Time Out
Time Out
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The film is superbly acted by Mr. Polanski, Mr. Douglas and Miss Winters.

May 9, 2005 Full Review Source: New York Times
New York Times
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As a film by Polanski, it's unspeakably disappointing.

October 23, 2004 Full Review Source: Chicago Sun-Times
Chicago Sun-Times
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It's 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.

February 3, 2004 Full Review Source: Village Voice
Village Voice
Top Critic IconTop Critic

The end result is somewhere between Franz Kafka and William Castle, but still worth seeing.

January 1, 2000 Full Review Source: Chicago Reader
Chicago Reader
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This creepy psychological thriller, dealing with paranoia and split identity, is one of Polanski's most underestimated films.

January 15, 2013 Full Review Source: EmanuelLevy.Com

Poorly received on its release, it has since become a cult fave.

June 6, 2010 Full Review Source: Ozus' World Movie Reviews | Comment (1)
Ozus' World Movie Reviews

A disturbing and poignant anthology of Roman Polanski's favourite, oppressive themes.

February 18, 2010 Full Review Source: Empire Magazine
Empire Magazine

The film [is] extremely, scarily effective (it is also surprisingly funny).

February 18, 2010 Full Review Source: TV Guide's Movie Guide | Comment (1)
TV Guide's Movie Guide

Although overshadowed by director Roman Polanski's more famous horror efforts... The Tenant is in many ways superior - a haunting, mesmerizing tale of a man's loss of identity and descent into madness.

December 11, 2009 Full Review Source: Cinefantastique | Comment (1)

Owing to the very same personal urgency that makes it a masterpiece, it is overwhelmingly solipsistic and ultimately alienating.

September 14, 2007 Full Review Source: Antagony & Ecstasy
Antagony & Ecstasy

The Tenant carries the most shocking double climax in all of cinema.

February 6, 2006

The Tenant is one of Roman Polanski's greatest and darkest films.

October 3, 2005 Full Review Source: Combustible Celluloid | Comment (1)
Combustible Celluloid

Polanski directs Polanski in this creepy tale of isolation and bad real estate.

April 3, 2005 | Comment (1)

Nightmarish, disturbing, brilliant Polanski.

October 14, 2004
Kansas City Kansan

Roman Polanski's key error is almost certainly casting himself in the lead, as he is not an adept enough thespian to pull of the challenging transformation of his character.

March 8, 2004 Full Review Source: Apollo Guide
Apollo Guide

The Tenant is Polanski at his funniest, and its humor is premised on its excess. You can think of it as a staring contest where your opponent is dressed in wild drag.

September 5, 2003 Full Review Source: PopMatters | Comment (1)

A masterpiece of anguish.

July 3, 2003 Full Review Source: Film Freak Central
Film Freak Central

The Tenant isn't so much a psychological portrait of grief as it is an unnerving acknowledgement of the ambiguous nature of the world.

June 28, 2003 Full Review Source: Slant Magazine
Slant Magazine

The Tenant's mysteries are thick indeed.

June 25, 2003 Full Review Source:

Audience Reviews for The Tenant

I think I know what happened. But I'm not sure.

Opening shots of apartment windows are amazing.
May 14, 2007

Super Reviewer

Though it's slow--and doesn't come near the brilliance of the classic Rosemary's Baby or the cinematic masterpiece that was Polanski's Macbeth--it is a successfully spooky mystery/thriller with a solid performance from Polanski and a well-filmed, hair-raising climax.
July 12, 2013
Matthew Samuel Mirliani

Super Reviewer

Let's just say that the rating is somewhere between 3.5-4, and that the grade is around a strong B to a B+.

Part of Polanski's "Apartment Trilogy", this is a surreal psychological horror/suspense thriller about a timid and quiet file clerk named Trelkovsky whose life starts to go downhill after moving into a new apartment. He is told that the previous tenant went mad and took a swan dive out a window. Trelkovsky himself starts to feel that his neighbors all have something against him and are trying to get him to follow the same path taken by the previous tenant. Is this really the truth though, or is it all just in his head? The set up is great, and I love how Polanski plays with ambiguity here, all the way through.

It's also funny how he plays the lead role, but isn't even listed in the credits, something that is both odd and cool. This is a psychological horror/suspense thriller, but it is also rather funny at times, albeit the comedy is of the really dark variety. Like I said, I love the set up, but the film isn't perfect. The biggest issue is that it is just way too drawn out. I really don't think it needed to be 125 minutes long. It could have been way condensed. However, haviing a long running time does allow for a tremendous amount of mood, tone, and atmosphere to be really expanded upon, even if it does start to become a tad much.

The cast is international, and they are all great. Polanski does a great job in the lead, and it is a shame he really doesn't act too much. He's pretty talented in this department. Isabelle Adjani is great with her frilly hair and oh so 70s glasses, but probably my favorite is Shelley Winters as the concierge. She's a hoot.

All in all, a mostly pretty satisfying film. The soundtrack is nice, the cinematography top notch, and the storyline wonderfully Kafkaesque. Give this one a shot.
April 5, 2012
Chris Weber

Super Reviewer

Roman Polanski makes a good point on over population and the role of the neighbour/community. It's hard to describe really, to call it a physiological thriller seems a bit lazy and reading the synopsis makes it sound a bit rubbish. It's an interesting idea though, full of terror and intrigue. I like the idea of putting schizophrenia on a loop, I guess that's what it's actually like in a way. How's that for bit of pop psychology!
November 17, 2011

Super Reviewer

    1. Trelkovsky: I think I'm pregnant
    – Submitted by Joanne R (2 years ago)
    1. Madame Dioz: She does her washing-up in the middle of the night, and she whistles at the same time!
    – Submitted by Jean M (3 years ago)
    1. Trelkovsky: At what precise moment does an individual stop being who he thinks he is? Cut off my arm. I say, 'Me and my arm.' You cut off my other arm. I say, 'Me and my two arms.' You take out my stomach, my kidneys, assuming that were possible... And I say, 'Me and my intestines.' And now, if you cut off my head... would I say, 'Me and my head' or 'Me and my body'? What right has my head to call itself me? What right?
    – Submitted by Jean M (3 years ago)
View all quotes (3)

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  • The Tenant (Le Locataire) (UK)
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