A quiet and inconspicuous man (Trelkovsky) rents an apartment in France where the previous tenant committed suicide, and begins to suspect his landlord and neighbors are trying to subtly change him into the last tenant so that he too will kill himself.
ActorsStarring: Roman Polanski, Isabelle Adjani, Melvyn Douglas, Bernard Fresson, Shelley Winters, Gérard Jugnot, Josiane Balasko, Raoul Guylad, Lila Kedrova, Jo Van Fleet, Claude Piéplu, Rufus, Romain Bouteille, Jacques Monod, Patrice Alexsandre, Jean-Pierre Bagot, Jacky Cohen, Bernard-Pierre Donnadieu, André Penvern, Albert Delpy, Louba Guertchikoff, Claude Dauphin
Trelkovsky (Roman Polanski), a quiet and unassuming man, rents an apartment in Paris whose previous tenant, Egyptologist Simone Choule, attempted to commit suicide by throwing herself out the window and through a pane of glass below. He visits Choule in the hospital but finds her entirely in bandages and unable to talk. Whilst still at Choule’s bedside, Trelkovsky meets Simone’s friend, Stella (Isabelle Adjani), who has also come to visit. Stella is overwhelmed with emotion and begins talking to Simone, who looks towards her visitors and lets out a disturbing cry. The matron insists they leave, having already informed Trekovsky that he may not speak to Choule. Trelkovsky tries to comfort Stella but dares not say that he never knew Simone, instead pretending to be another friend. They leave together and go out for a drink and a movie (1973’s Enter The Dragon), where they fondle each other. Outside the theatre they part ways. Later, Trelkovsky calls up the hospital to enquire about Choule, and is told she has died.
As Trelkovsky occupies the apartment he is chastised repeatedly by his neighbors and landlord, Monsieur Zy (Melvyn Douglas), for hosting a party with his friends, apparently having a woman over, making too much noise in general, and not joining in on a petition against another neighbor. Trelkovsky attempts to adapt to his situation, but is increasingly disturbed by the apartment and the other tenants. He frequently sees his neighbors standing motionless in the toilet room (which he can see from his own window), and discovers a hole in the wall with a human tooth stashed inside. He discusses this with his friends, who do not find things strange and belittle him for not standing up to his neighbours. He visits the apartment of one of his work friends, who plays a marching band record at a spitefully loud volume. A neighbour politely asks him to turn down the music, as his wife is ill and trying to sleep. Trelkovsky turns the record down, but his friend tells the neighbour that he will play his music as he wants, and that he does not care about his sick wife.
He receives a visit from one Georges Badar (Rufus), who secretly loved Simone and has believed her to be alive and well. Trelkovsky updates and comforts the man and spends the night out with him. He receives a postcard that Badar had posted before realising Simone had died. Frequenting the nearby café which Choule also patronised, he is recognised as the new tenant of her apartment. The owner pressures him into having Choule’s regular order, which is then always given to him without being ordered, against his preferences. They are always out of his preferred choice of cigarette, Gauloises, so he develops a habit of ordering the Marlboros, which Choule used to order. Nobody has any idea why Choule was suicidal…