A wounded criminal and his dying partner take refuge at a beachfront castle. The owners of the castle, a meek Englishman and his willful French wife, are initially the unwilling hosts to the criminals. Quickly, however, the relationships between the criminal, the wife, and the Englishman begin to shift in humorous and bizarre fashion.
Shot through with the same surreal, absurdist wit as Polanski’s shorts, this bizarre variation on a classic theme – a couple who have withdrawn from the world (Pleasence and Dorléac) to live on an isolated island are visited by gangsters on the run (Stander and MacGowran) – centres around the director’s abiding concerns: sexual perversity, insecurity and humiliation, the eruption of nightmarish chaos into a seemingly ordered world, human betrayal, corruptibility and self-destruction. If the subject matter is bleak and bitterly serious, the tone throughout is darkly comic, while the precise imagery effortlessly conveys the tension, the claustrophobia, and the madness of the situation.
— Timeout Film Guide
The fact that there isn’t a single likeable character in Cul de Sac does not diminish its artistic value in the least. Ageing, furtively kinky Donald Pleasence is married to sexy young Francoise Dorleac. The couple’s hermitlike tranquility is shattered when wounded gangsters Jack MacGowan and Lionel Stander invade their home and hold them hostage. As Dorleac urges her tremulous husband to do something, the two criminals begin behaving in a fashion that can only inadequately be described as eccentric. Drawing upon two of Polanski’s favorite themes-isolation and latent insanity–Cul de Sac actually improves upon each viewing, assuming that the viewer has the intestinal fortitude to sit through it once.
— Hal Erickson, Rovi
1. Two Gangsters and an Island
– A 2003 featurette about the making of Cul-de-sac, featuring interviews with Polanski, producer Gene Gutowski, and cinematographer Gilbert Taylor
2. Interview – Roman Polanski
– Television interview with Polanski from 1967
3. Theatrical Trailer
The extras are in English language with no subtitles.
Subtitles:English, French (srt)