The Tenants

"OK"

The Tenants Review


On the list of actors that your average casting director is going to look at when casting struggling writers, it's a certainty that Snoop Dogg is nowhere close to being on it. And yet the filmmakers behind The Tenants, a dour and messy piece of work about dueling novelists inhabiting the same Brooklyn tenement in 1972, went ahead and did just that; and were justly rewarded for taking their risk. Snoop more than rises to the task, he fairly walks away with the movie - unfortunately, he doesn't leave enough behind for anybody else to work with.

Danny Green's film of the Bernard Malamud novel starts off with Henry Lesser (Dylan McDermott hidden behind decade-appropriately unfortunate facial hair and hideous eyewear), a writer of the most masochistic sort. The only resident left in a deserted, falling-down building in a seedy corner of Brooklyn, he's hacking away at his typewriter, day after day, trying to finish his third novel; the first one was well received, the second not so much. Occasionally the landlord (Seymour Cassel) comes by to bang at the door and offer him increasingly large sums of money to get out so he can sell the place, but Henry, a creature of habit, keeps begging for more time, saying he'll move after he finishes the novel.

Further disturbing Henry's writing is the occasional tapping sounds he hears. The source turns out to be an ostensibly empty apartment on his floor, now occasionally inhabited by the lanky Willie Spearmint (Snoop Dogg), a roustabout struggling novelist aflame with the idea of Black Power. Eventually the two men develop a professional friendship of sorts, with Willie using Henry's apartment to store his typewriter in and occasionally asking writerly advice. Snoop's natural cool, combined with Willie's bobbing and weaving animosity, plays perfectly off Henry's monk-like reticence, and though this is hardly a feel-good story about opposites attracting, the few sparks of understanding struck up in the gulf between them are momentarily thrilling.

The Tenants is most successful when it sticks to focusing on the relationship between Henry and Willie. Stuck in their post-apocalyptic wreck of a building, obsessively hunting the perfect, finished novel in their ascetic cells, they're like haunted wraiths existing outside of time. It's a grey and otherworldly setting, strangely unnerving, with a subdued David Lynch quality to it. But for whatever reason, whenever the story is opened up and ventures into the outside world, it loses focus and takes away from Henry and Willie's dynamic, which is never fully developed. A critical flaw rises up when Henry falls in love with Willie's white actress girlfriend, Irene (Rose Byrne), a monumentally uninteresting character who seems to exist mostly to articulate the fact that beneath it all, Henry and Willie are essentially the same closed-off misanthrope concerned only about one thing - finishing their book.

Malamud's novel ends tragically in an explosion of racial vitriol and artistic jealousy. Green's film concludes in a similarly tragic manner, but the punch isn't there, and not just because the uglier language - Willie's anti-Semitism and Henry's racism - seems to have been toned down, but because the viewer hasn't been given enough time to get inside the heads of these two. The end result is that Snoop's charisma automatically makes him seem by far the more sympathetic of the two, upending the symmetry and understanding that might have made for a more compelling finish. It's a good try from a first-time director that never quite hits the mark.

Reviewed at the 2005 Tribeca Film Festival.



The Tenants

Facts and Figures

Run time: 93 mins

In Theaters: Friday 1st April 2005

Distributed by: Millennium Films

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 2.5 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 32%
Fresh: 6 Rotten: 13

IMDB: 5.3 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director:

Producer: , Manfred D. Heid,

Starring: as Harry Lesser, as Willie Spearmint, as Irene Bell

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

Colossal Movie Review

Colossal Movie Review

It's rare to find a movie that so defiantly refuses to be put into a...

King Arthur: Legend of the Sword Movie Review

King Arthur: Legend of the Sword Movie Review

It's unlikely that Guy Ritchie could make a boring movie if he wanted to. This...

Snatched Movie Review

Snatched Movie Review

It doesn't really matter that the script for this lively action-comedy is paper thin: teaming...

Jawbone Movie Review

Jawbone Movie Review

Boxing movies aren't usually this thoughtful. Sure, there are plenty of punchy moments in the...

Whisky Galore! Movie Review

Whisky Galore! Movie Review

Scottish filmmaker Gillies MacKinnon (Hideous Kinky) remakes the 1949 Ealing comedy classic, although it's difficult...

Alien: Covenant Movie Review

Alien: Covenant Movie Review

Master filmmaker Ridley Scott is back to continue the story 10 years after the events...

The Journey (2017) Movie Review

The Journey (2017) Movie Review

A fictionalised account of real events, this drama is reminiscent of Peter Morgan's work in...

Advertisement
Sleepless Movie Review

Sleepless Movie Review

In remaking the 2011 French thriller Sleepless Night, the filmmakers have dumbed down both the...

Unlocked Movie Review

Unlocked Movie Review

By injecting a steady sense of fun, this slick but mindless action thriller both holds...

Lady Macbeth Movie Review

Lady Macbeth Movie Review

A seriously impressive feature directing debut with a star-making central performance, this period British drama...

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 Movie Review

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 Movie Review

It was never going to be easy to match the impact of 2014's Guardians of...

The Promise Movie Review

The Promise Movie Review

The director of Hotel Rwanda, Terry George, turns to another humanitarian horror: the systematic murder...

Their Finest Movie Review

Their Finest Movie Review

Skilfully written, directed and acted, this offbeat British period film tells a story that catches...

Unforgettable Movie Review

Unforgettable Movie Review

With heavy echoes of trashy thrillers like Fatal Attraction, this movie overcomes its painfully simplistic...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.