Financial TimesFinancial Times

The joy of the flop

By Jo Ellison

08 Sep 2023 · 4 min read

You could almost hear the sound of scalpels being sharpened on the Lido as the critics gathered the most scabrous of remarks. The verdicts are in for Roman Polanski’s The Palace, which premiered at the 80th annual film festival in Venice last weekend, and the reviews are deliriously, excruciatingly bad. “A laughless debacle,” said Variety of Polanski’s latest, a black comedy about hotel guests at a New Year’s Eve party, starring John Cleese and Mickey Rourke. “A ghastly, flaccid hotel farce,” wrote The Guardian. “An eye-scorching atrocity,” said The Times. A “series of terminally unfunny jokes,” said the Financial Times. 

The Palace has landed on Rotten Tomatoes, the review aggregation site, with a stunning zero score. It’s an ignominious honour for the 90-year-old director who once carved a new cinematic language with such masterpieces as Repulsion and Chinatown.  

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