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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… More
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 85%

Critic Reviews from Rotten Tomatoes

"As a study in kinky insanity, Cul-de-Sac creates a tingling atmosphere. This sags riskily at times when the director unturns the screws and does not keep control of his frequently introduced comedy."
‑ Variety Staff, Variety
"This much sounds like a standard horror-film outline, especially since Stander looks amazingly like Frankenstein. But Polanski ignores the horror to concentrate instead on macabre humor."
‑ Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times
"Polanski tributes the [gangster-invasion film] by adding his own conceit: when there's no community worth salvaging, a threat will leave all involved floating, sans shoreline."
‑ Matthew Sorrento, Film International
"... as assured and as perfectly crafted as anything in Polanski's career, a miniature where every facet offers multiple reflections."
‑ Sean Axmaker, Parallax View
"I kind of expected the film to keep up some kind of momentum with a slam-bang beginning like that. It never slows down to a crawl, but it never gets as good as its first ten minutes."
‑ Jeffrey M. Anderson, Combustible Celluloid
"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."
‑ Geoff Andrew, Time Out
"One of the best and purest of all his works."
‑ Jonathan Rosenbaum, Chicago Reader
"Polanski uses all kinds of off-kilter angles an close-ups and his actors are absolutely fearless. The pacing is a little off, as there are stretches where it gets a little long, but it upends convention at every turn and that s pretty thrilling."
‑ Eric Melin,
"It's an actor's pic, where plot is insignificant."
‑ Dennis Schwartz, Ozus' World Movie Reviews
"Roman Polanski's character study is strange, creepy, and often compelling."
‑ Christopher Null,
"After two clean hits -- Knife in the Water and Repulsion -- Roman Polanski is entitled to one wild swing."
‑ Bosley Crowther, New York Times
"Pristine deep-focus absurdism jolted by wide-angle twitches, utter despair treated with something akin to jolliness"
‑ Fernando F. Croce, CinePassion
"pure Polanski through and through, made with no restraints and little outside influence, but it stumbles on its own absurdist tendencies, demonstrating how sometimes too much is too much"
‑ James Kendrick, Q Network Film Desk
"Neat little chiller with Polanski honing his abilities as a director and standout performances from Pleasence, Stander, and Dorleac."
‑ , TV Guide's Movie Guide
"The troubled dynamic of a castle-bound couple is further distorted by the arrival of a gangster who is marginally less vile than Carol's phantom."
‑ Jason Anderson, eye WEEKLY
More reviews for Cul-de-Sac on Rotten Tomatoes