Polanski himself stars as a Polish imigrant in Paris who, out of desparation to find a place to
live, rents the appartment of a woman who attempted suicide but isn't
quite dead yet (though seriously injured). Visiting her in hospital, he
meets Isabelle Adjani for the first time. As the woman - in heavy
bandages - makes out the 2 of them at her hospital bed, she cries out in
desparation ... Back at the appartment, Polanski's neighbours leave
little doubt that they don't like his kind, complaining about the
littlest noises he makes but on the other hand not interfering when his
appartment is broken into - instead complaining to him, too, about the
noises the burglar made. His paranoia growing, he starts to believe his
neighbours have driven the previous tenant (she has since died) to
suicide, thus identifying with her more & more - to a point when he
starts wearing her cloths. He meets Isabelle Adjani again & falls in
love with her, her being the only one to care for him. Soon, he decides
to move in with her until he sees his own landlord (Melvyn Douglas)
knocking at her door (for whatever reason), convincing him she's in
league with the neighbours too, also wanting to drive him to suicide.
Fleeing her appartment in panic, he is run over by a car and -
unconsciously - brought back to his own appartment. No sooner back, his
paranoia takes the better of him, making him believe his neighbours are
finally closing in on him. To him, the only escape-route is out of the
window - the very same window his predecessor leaped out of - so he
jumps out, but is only injured slightly, so he climbs back up the stairs
& jumps again ...
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In hospital, he awakes again, heavily bandaged. Leaning over him he
sees Isabelle Adjani & ... himself. He cries out in despair ...
Shelley Winters plays the concierge, by the way.
A great tale of paranoia that at least borders the absurd sometimes,
done with style & vision. Up to the mid 70's, director Polanski did
a great many truly great movies (with the exception of What ? of
course), often absurdist psycho-dramas, often not all that dissimilar to
Le Locataire (Repulsion & Cul-de-Sac spring to
mind for example). Curiously, this one was the last in Polanski's series
of masterpieces, as he somehow seems to have decided to spend the
remainder of his career doing relatively unremarkable fare (such as Tess,
Frantic or Pirates), all this culminating in getting an
Oscar - that medal of honour for mediocrity - as best director for The
Pianist in 2003.