This is easily our classiest horror-themed month for the Blog Collab, so of course we’re working in a…classic…Polanski film?
The Uncondensed Version:
Trelkovsky is a Pole looking for an apartment in Paris. He asks the concierge to show him the apartment, but she is rather unwelcoming and initially dismissive until bribed. Her dog isn’t any friendlier and tries to bite him in a scene reminiscent of The Pink Panther Strikes Again (which coincidentally[?] was released the same year).
The concierge reveals the previous tenant threw herself out of the window, and shows Trelkovsky the glass that needs to be repaired below. She rather cryptically explains that the previous tenant isn’t dead, but won’t be returning to the apartment and laughs rather sinisterly. There is also no bathroom in the apartment. Even so, apartments are hard to come by in Paris, so Trelkovsky eagerly snatches the place up (I can relate even in Dayton).
Out of curiosity, Trelkovsky tracks down the previous tenant in the hospital, Simone Choule. Simone has just woken from a coma and is in a full body cast, but it doesn’t stop her from producing absolutely horrific screams when she sees Trelkovsky, her friend Stella, or perhaps all of the above.
Perhaps to seem a bit less of a creep, Trelkovsky pretends to be a friend of Simone’s, which gets him a drink and a semi-drunken grope at the movies with Stella.
Trelkovsky invites a few people over to celebrate his new place and in general goes about having a normal life, but there is a vague sense that all is not well when increasingly surreal incidents begin happening. First, he finds a human tooth in a hole in the wall. Then, he is confronted by a woman and her young daughter about a noise complaint he allegedly made about them. In turn, he is on the receiving end of several noise complaints. He also sees people just silently standing unmoving in the toilet for hours.
Further complications arise when one of Simone’s friends visits the apartment and reveals he was in love with her. Once he starts crying, he can’t stop and (like a true Pole), Trelkovsky becomes incredibly uncomfortable in the face of emotions.
The turning point seems to be when Trelkovsky’s apartment is robbed and, rather than looking out for him, the neighbors and landlord continue to harangue him about how much noise he makes. Trelkovsky, quite patient up to this point, becomes irritable, paranoid, and quite unhinged.
It just gets more confusing when he is asked to sign a petition complaining about tenants he has never met, buys a wig, slaps a random child (I mean, who hasn’t had that impulse?), and witnesses a very strange ritual in the streets. As he unravels completely, Trelkovsky insists that “they” drove Simone to suicide, and they are trying to do the same with him. I say this rhetorically but also in hopes of an answer—what the actual fuck is going on with this film?
3/5 Pink Panther Heads
If this weren’t for the blog, I probably would’ve given up on this one. It’s a solid 2 hours and only gets more incomprehensible as the time goes on.
What I do like about this one is the commentary on city life and living amongst strangers. Trelkovsky tries to keep to himself as advised, but he is still on the receiving end of noise complaints and interference from nosy neighbors. There is an absurdity to the entire situation—no matter how quietly he lives, his neighbors find fault and want him to essentially cease to exist. The landlord suggests he wear slippers, and the police even intervene when they receive multiple noise complaints about Trelkovsky.
Ironically, everyone (including those dispensing unwanted advice) tells Trelkovsky to mind his own business to solve his neighbor problems. (And we all remember how well that worked for Jimmy Stewart in Rear Window.) This further antagonizes him, making him even more isolated and paranoid.
The ending reminds me so much of Rosemary’s Baby, with Trelkovsky becoming cornered and trapped just as much as Rosemary by dark and perhaps evil forces (Rosemary’s Baby is so much better, though). As with every Roman Polanski movie, this just sort of makes me want to watch Chinatown again. Or maybe I should just…leave it (sorry [no, I’m not]).