Soon after directing Knife in the Water, the filmmaker Roman Polanski shifted base to England where he made three movies, the first of which was Repulsion, a cornerstone in psychological horror. He followed that up with Cul-de-Sac, a brilliant black comedy concerning a bizarre manage-a-trois between David (Donald Pleasence) an effeminate and cuckolded middle-aged man, Tess (Francoise Dorleac), his svelte, sultry, aggressive and much younger wife, and Dickie (Lionel Stander), a brutish thug on the run. Owing to a botched job that has left his Chaplinesque partner Albie (Jack MacGowan) shot in the gut and the two stranded in the middle of nowhere, the menacing Dickie takes refuge in an idyllic mansion overlooking the sea by holding its occupants, the above mentioned couple, as hostages. Exquisitely shot in crisp black-and-whites and filled with a host of disconcerting extreme close-ups and convoluted camera angles, the film is filled with the kind of dark nihilism and twisted portrayal of human behavior that the maverick Polish auteur was both renowned and notorious for. None of the characters in the movie are what one might consider as “normal people”; rather, their demeanours are cartoonish and oftentimes bordering on the excesses, thus making their characterizations unique and hilarious. Comprising of a taut script, an excellent score, and superb performances, the movie’s tar black humour, grim worldview, latent violence, and edginess, are recipe for a relentlessly bleak and disturbing yet incredibly gratifying cinematic experience.
Director: Roman Polanski
Genre: Comedy/Black Comedy/Crime Thriller