The TenantRoman Polanksi’s 1976 The Tenant, the third and the last of his ‘apartment’ trilogy (after Repulsion and Rosemary’s Baby), is a horror film of sorts but it is above all an unnerving portrayal of an outsider’s descent into paranoid schizophrenia as well as a play on Polanski’s favourite theme, namely that when an individual is pitted against a collective the latter invariably wins. Underlining this, Polanksi himself plays the lead role of the outsider, Trelkovsky, and toys with his audience by not listing himself in the closing credits. The nervous and unassuming Trelkovsky rents a Parisian apartment whose previous occupant, Simone Choule, has committed suicide by throwing herself out of the window. Trelkovsky visits her in hospital just before she dies. At her bedside he meets her slightly zany friend, Stella (played by Isabelle Adjani). She will provide moments of relief but cannot prevent his descent. Back at the apartment building strange things happen and Trelkovsky feels increasingly persecuted by the landlord (Melvyn Douglas) and the concièrge (Shelley Winters). Polanski very cleverly traps us with the oldest trick in the book; the unreliable narrator/camera. At first, the camera seems to show us how Trelkovsky’s point of view is becoming increasingly unreliable, but later we realise that the supposedly more ‘objective’ shots might also be unreliable – at least, some of the time. The viewer ends up not knowing where reality begins and ends or even if there ever was reality. Put another way, what Trelkovsky apparently sees is his reality which, in the end, is just as valid as any other perceived reality, including our own. The enigmatic ending, where Trelkovsky seems to end up in exactly the same mummified position in a hospital bed as Simone Choule, but then we see Trelkovsky apparently visiting himself, provides the icing on the cake. At any rate, we’re still discussing its significance. It is surprising only that this film isn’t better known.