DVD - 2011
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A withdrawn couple's isolated house is infiltrated by a rude, burly American gangster on the run. The three engage in role-playing games of sexual and emotional humiliations.
Publisher: [New York] : Criterion Collection, c2011
Edition: Director approved special ed
ISBN: 9781604654509
Branch Call Number: MOVIE CUL
Characteristics: 1 videodisc (112 min.) : sd., b&w ; 4 3/4 in


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Dec 11, 2014

The privileged, if terribly dull lives of impotent businessman George and his generally frustrated wife Teresa are thrown into disarray when Richard (“Dicky”), a brusque and churlish gangster on the lam, decides to hole up in their crumbling seaside castle while awaiting the arrival of his cohorts. Immediately drawn to the alpha male’s coarse machismo, the milquetoast George finds himself becoming a neurotic lapdog while Teresa’s libido begins to tingle at the thought of finally having a “real man” in the chateau. Meanwhile the somewhat thick-headed Richard remains perpetually baffled by his eccentric hosts’ increasingly odd behaviour. A tense psychological three-way ensues with destructive fun and games and a growing sense of menace which threatens to not only derail the couple’s orderly life but send it careening into the abyss as well. Under the guise of an absurdist black comedy, and it really is funny to be honest, Roman Polanski explores some weighty territory: the banality of the upper crust (an insufferable lunch party with some boorish friends and their hellish son is pure gold); gentility as a weak facade hiding our true natures; and the power of brutality to incite chaos and madness in even the most civilized settings. George and Teresa’s imposing estate, set conspicuously atop an isolated thrust of rock, speaks of affluence but in reality it is overrun with domesticated chickens and bad artwork while the couple themselves are practically penniless thanks to the cost of its upkeep. Richard, on the other hand, remains oblivious to the faux opulence around him and instead helps himself to whatever the hell he wants thanks to a loud voice and loaded pistol (ah symbolism!). But it is in the film’s blazing finale, dripping with violence and grim irony, that Polanski showcases his legendary directorial skills as he brings the story full circle before ending it with one of the more magnificently outlandish series of images I’ve seen in some time.

Marinetti Oct 30, 2013

Funny, quirky film by Roman Polanski ( Chinatown, Rosemary's Baby ). Fast forwarding through quality films evinces an attention span worthy of a gnat.

Jul 21, 2013

Froster was right, a lot of fast forward ... Watch it for the rich collection of characters came together in the unusual boondocks setting.

Froster Jul 16, 2012

Although I usually don’t have much patience for “epater la bourgeoisie” exercises, “Cul-de-Sac” does provide some pleasures. The cinematography is marvelous, the atmosphere is tangible, and the performances are…well…committed, if rather one-note. Take Bunuel, Orton, Pinter, even Beckett…throw in a dash of Key Largo, shake vigorously, and “Cul-de-Sac” is what you end up with. Although Stander and Pleasance make most of the noise, the real find here is Dorleac, whose early death seems more tragic with every film I see of hers. Polanski got better, more controlled and for the most part, wittier after this effort. (With some stunning lapses, it’s true). But it’s certainly worth viewing. It’s just that you might find yourself fast forwarding, and turning the volume down. Don’t worry…you won’t miss that much. Oh, and as for the nasty comment about attention spans directed at two of us, a gnat would long have died of boredom not fast-forwarding through all of this, but then again "lobsterandliver" , they don't have opposable thumbs. Do you?

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