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 in the beautiful Ozarks of Northwest Arkansas. 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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