Cul-de-sac (1966) dir. Roman Polanski
I feel a bit out of my depth trying to evaluate Cul-de-sac, because a) I’ve never seen a production of absurdist theater and b) I didn’t enjoy Cul-de-sac very much at all, aside from Donald Pleasance’s performance. It reminded me a lot of Bergman’s Hour of the Wolf, a failed attempt with a similar structure and style.
“An odd mix of the plays of Samuel Beckett and Harold Pinter and such hard-edged Humphrey Bogart hostage thrillers as The Petrified Forest (Archie Mayo, 1936), Key Largo (John Huston, 1948), and The Desperate Hours (William Wyler, 1955)…” – Christopher Weedman, Senses of Cinema
The sense I get from most of the reviews – negative and positive – is that Cul-de-sac is sort of Polanski’s graduate thesis, comprised of re-written crib notes from other filmmakers and playwrights, re-arranged in hopes of appearing either original or intelligent. (hoping for both would be too much)
Polanski’s “commentary” on sexuality consists of an emasculated cuckold wearing lipstick and a dress – all the subtlety of a Clint Eastwood film on racism. Any of the characters would be better suited for a parody of theater or a Tarantino pastiche instead of a straight-up attempt that Polanski tries here.
Cul-de-sac is #888 on the 2011 edition of the TSPDT 1,000 list I’m blogging through. I’ve now seen 423.