Wall Street Journal - 02/19/2010
"Marina Zenovich's documentary chronicles the heartbreaks and tragedies of Polanski's life..."
In 1977, director Roman Polanski was untouchable. Film such as ROSEMARY'S BABY and CHINATOWN had cemented his reputation, and he staged a successful return to filmmaking following the death of his wife, Sharon Tate, in '69. But his appetite for narcotics and free love landed him in serious trouble with the law after an ill-fated photo shoot with 13-year-old Samantha Gailey led to full sexual intercourse. ROMAN POLANSKI: WANTED AND DESIRED is a documentary that looks at the court case and media feeding frenzy that followed Polanski's arrest in '77. Director Marina Zenovich takes an intriguing approach by focusing less on the incident itself, and more on the actions of the judge who presided over the case. Polanski isn't interviewed, but key figures such as the two opposing lawyers and Gailey all step forward to offer a harsh critique of judge Laurence Rittenband's handling of the trial.
Zenovich's film is a real triumph. She expertly blends archival footage of Polanski with current-day reflections on the case from a host of key players. The build-up to the director's eventual exit and exile from the U.S. is executed with real tension, and the biggest surprise is that no one involved on either side of the case blamed Polanski for fleeing. Rittenband is painted as a highly corrupt, media-hungry figure whose ego dominated the proceedings. No one involved in the case denies that Polanski did something terribly wrong, but it's to Zenovich's credit that she doesn't dwell on this point. Instead she forms a harsh critique of a justice system that allows people like Rittenband to operate freely. The only missing part of the puzzle is the judge himself, who died in '93. But the body of evidence against his actions is skillfully dissected in this impressive feature.
Description by Image Entertainment:
One of the most controversial and brilliant directors, Roman Polanski has long been a subject of fascination for his films (Rosemary's Baby, Chinatown, The Pianist) and his personal life. Reopening a case that sent shock waves through the world over three decades ago, Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired intensely examines Polanski's conviction for having unlawful sexual intercourse with a minor and the chaos that followed. With unprecedented access to the lawyers representing the case, the media covering it and the victim herself, the documentary is a startling indictment of our legal system and its paradoxical relationship with celebrity culture in contemporary America. Should Polanski continue to be banned from the United States' This film may change your mind.
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