The Sunday before last I had the choice between a literate comedy (Holiday) in the screwball season and an early Polanski, full of disturbance, self-loathing and humiliation. I chose the former and it was wonderful – Cary Grant less frantic and still the acme of urbane, Katherine Hepburn lustrous, and with two marvellously subversive academics as the chorus. This meant I had to see Cul-de-Sac last Saturday.
There was an introductory talk by a Polish professor in film, who thought that it was in many ways the canonical Polanski work. While often funny and broad, it is of course unsettling in the degeneration of Donald Pleasence’s character and the shifting relations between the three protagonists. She promised us that eggs would be prominent as props, and they really were, mostly filling the fridge, showcasing Pleasence’s awkwardness and impotence, and providing rough sustenance for Lionel Stander. The music was very effective, with the same motif transposed from incidental themes to Dorleac’s loud jazz vinyl.
Apparently the shooting was nearly as fraught as the on-screen action…and, as usual, there was a lot of overlap between Polanski’s own life and the plot.
Lindisfarne seems more appealing now, actually.