The Tenant (1976)

The Tenant



Critic Consensus: 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.

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 … More

Rating: R
Genre: Horror, Mystery & Suspense, Classics
Directed By: ,
Written By: Roland Topor, Roman Polanski, Roman Pola?ski, Gérard Brach
In Theaters:
On DVD: Jul 1, 2003
Paramount Pictures


as Monsieur Zy

as Madame Dioz

as Trelkovsky

as Mme. Gaderian

as Madame Dioz

as Cafe Owner

as Badar

as Scope's Neighbor

as Stella's Friend

as Head Nurse

as Office Clerk

as Mme. Gaderian's Daug...

as Cafe Waiter

as Simone Choule

as Philippe

as JeanClaude

as Police Sergeant

as Trelkovsky
Show More Cast

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Critic Reviews for The Tenant

All Critics (30) | Top Critics (6)

It has a humorous tang, underlying the macabre.

Full Review… | October 18, 2008
Top 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.

Full Review… | June 24, 2006
Time Out
Top Critic

The film is superbly acted by Mr. Polanski, Mr. Douglas and Miss Winters.

Full Review… | May 9, 2005
New York Times
Top Critic

As a film by Polanski, it's unspeakably disappointing.

Full Review… | October 23, 2004
Chicago Sun-Times
Top Critic

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.

Full Review… | February 3, 2004
Village Voice
Top Critic

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

Full Review… | January 1, 2000
Chicago Reader
Top Critic

Audience Reviews for The Tenant


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

Opening shots of apartment windows are amazing.

Bob Stinson

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.

Matthew Samuel Mirliani
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.

Chris Weber

Super Reviewer

The Tenant Quotes

– Submitted by Joanne R (2 years ago)
– Submitted by Jean M (3 years ago)
– Submitted by Jean M (3 years ago)

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