Irish Film Institute -CUL-DE-SAC



113 minutes, U.K., 1966, Black and White, D-Cinema

Shot on location on a tidal island off the coast of England, in and around a castle described as ‘Rob Roy’, Cul-de-sac, one of Polanski’s most riotous but deadly comedies, concerns an ill-matched couple taken hostage in their own fortress by two injured but armed criminals. Although the role of perishing gangster Albie, played by Jack MacGowran (an Irish actor renowned for his on-stage performance in Waiting for Godot) reinforces the Beckettian tone of the film, Cul-de-sac is distinctly Polanski’s own, particularly in terms of setup whereby a strange intruder, much like in Knife in the Water, acts as catalyst in the breakdown of an already floundering marriage.

While Donald Pleasance is remarkable as daft, besotted George, the film is stolen by seductive Françoise Dorléac, Catherine Deneuve’s elder sister, whose mischievous pranks allow for a welcome degree of anarchy to prevail throughout.

This film is showing as part of the IFI’s Focus on Roman Polanski (January 4th – 26th).

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