Cul-de-sac (1966)

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.

About Adam Call Roberts

I live and work in the beautiful Ozarks of Northwest Arkansas. I have a 2-year-old son who, right now, loves dinosaurs, dragons and showing off how fast he can run. I'm counting down through the list of 1,000 Greatest Films. Follow my journey here. I'm also a genealogy buff, and I blog about my family history.
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