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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » The Tenants
The Tenants
Sony Pictures // R // March 7, 2006
List Price: $24.96 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Scott Weinberg | posted February 26, 2006 | E-mail the Author
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The Movie

Two tortured writers share a dilapidated tenement apartment building. One's an accomplished author who's fallen on hard times, a talented writer searching desperately for a muse. The other's a street-hewn first-timer, a potential poet with the appearance of a wide-eyed criminal.

That's pretty much the long and short of Danny Green's The Tenants, a well-crafted and thoughtful drama that unfortunately becomes more contrived and portentious the longer it goes on.

Dylan McDermott plays Harry Lesser, the last legal tenant of a crumbling edifice. Harry's landlord (Seymour Cassel) wants to buy the guy out, but Lesser insists that he needs to stay until his latest book is finished.

Off in a vacant apartment, a new tenant has slipped in: Willie Spearmint, as played by Snoop Dogg, has the need to tell his tales, but lacks the experience that Harry's got. Slowly (some would opine "too slowly") Harry and Willie become something close to friends, mainly when Willie needs some tips, and it becomes pretty clear that the guy's got some talent.

Complications ensue when Harry makes the acquaintance of Willie's girlfriend (Rose Byrne), and that's precisely when The Tenants begins to feel more like a soap opera and less like the two-part character study from Act I.

Both leads give surprisingly strong performances, with McDermott as the reserved one and Dogg as the edgy outsider. Cassel adds some color in a too-small role, and Ms. Byrne contributes some much-needed heart to the tale, but ultimately The Tenants feels like a serious drama that morphed into a racial thriller -- or a pulpy soap opera with a really long intro section.

While certainly not a bad movie, The Tenants (which is based on a novel by Bernard Malamud) does feel a little schizophrenic. It ranges from one-set character piece to race-centric speech-making to Cinemax style bedroom dealings... Well, at least it's not boring.

The DVD

Video: A handsome anamorphic widescreen (1.85:1) transfer.

Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1 with optional subtitles in English and French. Extras

Just a bunch of trailers for Dirty, Chasing Ghosts, The Gospel, End Game, The Passenger, and Breakfast on Pluto.

Final Thoughts

A little bit dry and quite a bit dreary, but The Tenants isn't dull, and it's anchored by a pair of performances strong enough to help you weather the rough spots.

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