Roman Polanski: A Film Memoir
THIS feature-length interview with a legendary and notorious filmmaker is more like a DVD extra than a work of art in its own right. Still, there's a hint of the fairy-tale mood of Roman Polanski's own movies in the introductory sequence, which shows his old friend Andrew Braunsberg driving through the Swiss countryside to the chalet where Polanski was held under house arrest in 2009.
Relaxing with Braunsberg in his living room, Polanski recounts his well-known, dramatic life story, dwelling especially on his childhood experiences after the Nazis separated him from his family.
Though Polanski has always insisted his films are not personal confessions, the director Laurent Bouzereau uses clips to suggest how closely the life and work mirror each other. Incidents from Polanski's Holocaust-era drama The Pianist are revealed to be directly autobiographical; more strikingly, we are encouraged to see Rosemary's Baby as a reflection of his ambivalence about becoming a father. The film is openly an attempt to repair Polanski's public image, though it seems unlikely to succeed.
Discussing the rape charge that exiled him from the US, he acknowledges his wrongdoing and quickly moves on, complaining of unfair treatment from the trial judge and the media.
There is no end to arguments about Polanski: for some, he will always be a criminal first and last, a reasonable point of view. Others, like this writer, remain grateful for his art whatever judgments are made of his character - and glad, despite everything, he's lived to tell the tale.
Selected (M, 90 minutes)