The Tenant





Trelkowski (Polanski), a quiet and inconspicuous man, rents an apartment in France where the previous tenant, Simone Choule, attempted to commit suicide by throwing herself out of the window and through a pane of glass. He goes to visit her in the hospital, but finds her all bandaged up and unable to talk; she instead lets out a disturbing cry upon seeing him. Trelkowski leaves with Simone's friend, Stella (Adjani), and go out for a drink and a movie...

As Trelkowski occupies the apartment he is soon chastised by his neighbors and his landowner Monsieur Zy (Douglas) for hosting a party with his friends, making too much noise, not joining in on a petition against another neighbor and being accused of frequently bringing in women to his place. Trelkowski attempts to adapt, but is himself disturbed by the frequent sight of his neighbors standing blankly in the toilet room (which he can see from his own window) and the discovery of a hole in his apartment with a human lateral incisor stashed inside. He also receives a visit and a letter from one Georges Badar (Rufus), who secretly loved Simone and believed her alive and well. Trelkowski comforts the man and spends the night out with him.

Trelkowski begins to lose it when his apartment is robbed and both his neighbors and the concierge (Winters) continue to berate him for making too much noise. He becomes hostile to his day-to-day environment (snapping off at his friends, slapping a kid in the street), buys a wig and women's clothing and goes on to dress up and sit still in his apartment in the dead of night. He suspects Zy and neighbors are trying to subtly change him into the last tenant, Simone, so that he too will kill himself. He has visions of his neighbors playing football with a human head, sees himself staring out of his own window and finds the toilet covered in hieroglyphs. Trelkowski runs off to Stella for comfort and sleeps over, but in the morning he concludes she too is in on his neighbors' complot and wreaks havoc in her apartment.

He is hit by an elderly couple driving a car. Not wounded too seriously, they drive him up his apartment. A deranged Trelkowski goes on to dress up as a woman and throw himself in the manner of Simone Choule's before what he believes to be a clapping, cheering audience composed by his neighbors. The suicide attempt, in fact, wakes up his neighbors, who arrive to the scene together with the police just in time for Trelkowski to crawl up to his apartment and throw himself one more time.

The end of the movie has Trelkowski bandaged up in the same fashion as Simone Choule in the same hospital bed. There is a flashback to his and Stella's own visit to Simone. Trelkowski then lets go of the same disturbing cry Simone has screamed.












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Directed by Roman Polanski
Produced by Hercules Bellville
Written by Gérard Brach
Roman Polanski
Starring Roman Polanski
Isabelle Adjani
Melvyn Douglas
Jo Van Fleet
Bernard Fresson
Lila Kedrova
Claude Dauphin
Shelly Winters
Music by Philippe Sarde
Distributed by  
Release date(s) May 26, 1976
Running time 125 min
Language English/French