• A gigantic achievement, the final chapter of Polanski’s unofficial urban paranoia set of films best known as the apartment trilogy with Repulsion (1965), Rosemary’s Baby (1968)—and I’m not sure all three aren’t masterpieces
  • If Polanski is the most talented of Hitchcock’s acolytes (and there are others for sure- including the imposingly gifted De Palma)- then it is fitting to refer back to my comment on Vertigo where I talk about how that film is the greatest crystallization of Hitchcock’s exposed neurosis on screen— this is certainly that for Polanski—a wild ride, indeed
  • Polanski plays the Trelkovsky himself—a meek, acquiescing man who inquires about a vacant apartment. We’re not sure what drove him to the place but we know it is vacant because the previous tenant jumped out of the window
  • Bergman go-to Sven Nykvist (Persona, Cries and Whispers, Fanny and Alexander) is the cinematographer here

A gigantic achievement, the final chapter of Polanski’s unofficial urban paranoia trilogy with Repulsion (1965), Rosemary’s Baby (1968)—and I’m not sure all three aren’t masterpieces

  • Polanski starts with a prolonged floating tracking shot outside the windows in the courtyard of the apartment- a shot he would bookend, in a horrifying way, in the astonishing climax
  • Greens galore in the décor and production design—the broken window is green, the hospital is green, green church, his kitchen,  Isabelle Adjani’s turtleneck, eyeshadow and scar—
  • At the 20 minute mark we get one of Polanski’s trademark shots- his talent for shooting paranoia—he’s on the phone and the camera slowly glides around the open two doors alluding to someone being just behind the (green) doors listening… he does this in Rosemary’s Baby as well. It isn’t isolation he’s showing (like Scorsese’s brilliant shot in Taxi Driver of the empty hallway)- it is the walls closing in on Polanski’s protagonist (himself in this case).  We get the reoccurring shot through Polanski’s oeuvre- the distorted wide-angle apartment peephole shot as well later on with the Melvyn Douglas scene. This is in Rosemary’s Baby and Repulsion as well

the reoccurring shot through Polanski’s oeuvre- the distorted wide-angle apartment peephole shot as well later on with the Melvyn Douglas scene. This is in Rosemary’s Baby and Repulsion as well

  • The rigid rules set down by the landlord (Melvyn Douglas) and the concierge (Shelley Winters)—a lack of freedom, it also lays the groundwork for Polanski’s The Pianist and the Gestapo. The urban boundaries pushed inch by inch cutting him off— Polanski has so much baggage at this point being a victim of the Holocaust himself and this is the first film he made after his criminal charges in California…. There is a petition in the film to remove a tenant who whistles— again, it would be laughably absurd if it weren’t so upsetting. Polanski’s character is juxtaposed with the loud friend who flaunts his freedom with his music and brashness

the production design and set detail here is worth praising– like a colorized version of Robert Eggers’ The Lighthouse

  • He’s slowly transforming into the previous tenant, drinking her chocolate, Marlboro cigarettes, dealing with her friends—shots of the mirror and his potential doppelganger
  • We get the bathroom across the courtyard — there’s the Jewish star engraved on the wall, Egyptian hieroglyphs (mummification is part of that weird bathroom booth) and there is ancient Egyptian iconography throughout the film

We get the bathroom across the courtyard — there’s the Jewish star engraved on the wall, Egyptian hieroglyphs (mummification is part of that weird bathroom booth) and there is ancient Egyptian iconography throughout the film

  • The shot of 97 minutes with Polanski in the park with green chairs – beautiful shot

The shot of 97 minutes with Polanski in the park with green chairs – beautiful shot

  • The film is disturbing, but there are moments of clear comedy- and you can see if you twisted this thing a little we’d have a full blown comedic labyrinth of absurdity— this isn’t far removed from The Big Lebowski or Under the Silver Lake by David Robert Mitchell.
  • If you pair this with Rosemary’s Baby clearly Winters and Douglas are the Ruth Gordon and Sidney Blackmer older couple squeezing our protagonist
  • Again, it feels like Polanski’s rawest brain-tap—he’s wondering aloud about self-identity, drifting off from paranoia into madness- painting his fingernails and dressing in drag…with the wig and duel identities you can’t not think about Hitchcock and Psycho again as well

Again, it feels like Polanski’s rawest brain-tap—he’s wondering aloud about self-identity, drifting off from paranoia into madness- painting his fingernails and dressing in drag…with the wig and duel identities you can’t not think about Hitchcock and Psycho again as well

  • The finale is breathtaking—flabbergasting—the double jump—complete with green panties
  • If there’s a flaw—it is a few scenes of Polanski as an actor- he’s not a great actor. There’s one where he says “I know exactly what your little scheme is” with his finger in the air. It is weak. It is a remarkable film regardless- but I’d like to see it with Dustin Hoffman or Jean-Louis Trintignant in 1976— or maybe Peter Lorre if you can go back in time.
  • At 119 minutes we get the 60 second floating tracking shot around the courtyard. It is no longer empty—it is like a bizarro-world Rear Window—splendid bookends with the opening shot

At 119 minutes we get the 60 second floating tracking shot around the courtyard. It is no longer empty—it is like a bizarro-world Rear Window—splendid bookends with the opening shot

  • He then sees himself in the hospital, and the camera dives into his open scream

He then sees himself in the hospital, and the camera dives into his open scream

  • Must-See/Masterpiece border—leaning towards masterpiece with some processing still to do