Roman Polanski: A Film Memoir

Roman Polanski has more than one story to tell. In a lifetime dedicated to storytelling, it is ironic that his own life experiences have been the stuff that good Hollywood films tend to made of. No doubt much will be made of the fact that the Memoir was filmed while Polanski was under house arrest in Switzerland, and indeed the film takes the controversial “American problems” as the director himself refers to them here as the starting point but the documentary is a good deal more than an opportunity to clear the director’s name. Instead it tells the story of his entire life, in which Samantha Geimer is merely one chapter, and – most enticingly for film fans – in Polanski’s own words (and occasionally those of “host” Andrew Braunsberg). Rather than opt for a narrative-type documentary, director Laurent Bouzereau opts instead for a feature length interview with his subject, presided over by Polanski’s friend and production colleague Braunsberg in the inquisitor’s seat, inter-lacing personal photographs with stock historical footage and sequences taken directly from Polanski’s films. In honesty, these visual ornaments are only brief distractions, and for the main part the film allows Polanski to merely tell his own story, which was a good decision given his story-telling abilities and his natural charm.

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