Cul-de-Sac is an interesting early effort by Polanski, if only for the sheer potpourri of character types, themes, and tones on display. The three leads bounce off each other and attempt to subvert unspoken authority over one another using sexuality, wit, and force (often interchangeably). Pleasence and Dorleac both do a fine job, but (either due to undiagnosed xenophobia or my burgeoning interest in noir) Lionel Stander steals the show in my book. With a voice that sounds like Coney Island sandpaper and a 'noice-guy' attitude that, out of the three, turns out to be quite literal, the almost-genial gangster kept me going when the character study lost my interest.
Unfortunately the potpourri described above is a double-edged sword, as, while it might be interesting to a more dedicated Polanski fan, I couldn't help feeling the mish-mash of elements left me as isolated from the film as 'Rob Roy' from the mainland.