Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired (2008)



Critic Consensus: A courtroom drama and an exploration of celebrity and responsibility.

Movie Info

The events of 1977 and 1978 permanently marred director Roman Polanski's life. Accused of unlawful sexual assault on minor Samantha Geimer during his stay at actor Jack Nicholson's house in March of 1977, Polanski wound up in the midst of controversial judicial proceedings that many read as supremely unfair. After being temporarily sprung on 2,500 dollars bail, Polanski then fled the United States for Europe in 1978, with the threat of incarceration hanging over him should he ever return. With … More

Rating: Unrated
Genre: Documentary, Musical & Performing Arts, Special Interest
Directed By:
Written By: Marina Zenovich, Joe Bini, P.G. Morgan
In Theaters:
On DVD: Jan 27, 2009

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Critic Reviews for Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired

All Critics (49) | Top Critics (16)

Though Marina Zenovich's film deals with the notorious case of the film director who pleaded guilty to having sex with a 13-year-old, the film's real subject is the California legal system turned upside down by celebrity and media pressure.

Full Review… | July 25, 2008
Globe and Mail
Top Critic

With a subject like Roman Polanski, you don't really need to do much to capture audience interest. But maybe that's the reason Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired doesn't live up to its promise.

Full Review… | July 25, 2008
San Francisco Chronicle
Top Critic

Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired, a documentary by Marina Zenovich that is also a first-rate work of reportage, makes a forceful case that the whole truth of the matter was never heard in court and Polanski was more sinned against than sinning.

Full Review… | July 25, 2008
Toronto Star
Top Critic

Roman Polanski (The Pianist, Rosemary's Baby, Chinatown) is unquestionably a great filmmaker, but as Marina Zenovich's documentary Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired perhaps unintentionally demonstrates, he's also a creep.

Full Review… | July 25, 2008
Seattle Times
Top Critic

Whether you can swallow that or not, the mesmerizing narrative recounts a media circus of unrivaled malignance.

Full Review… | July 25, 2008
Chicago Reader
Top Critic

She has achieved extraordinary access to the other still-living players in the case, and they all seem to be in agreement: Polanski is correct in saying the judge played with him as a cat might play with a mouse.

Full Review… | July 25, 2008
Chicago Sun-Times
Top Critic

Audience Reviews for Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired


A mediocre doc designed mainly for Polanski. It goes on to depict how Polanski couldn't get a fair trial that he deserved more than any other human due to a judge craving for media popularity.

familiar stranger

Super Reviewer

"The truth couldn't fit in the headlines."

Marina Zenovich's new documentary examines the public scandal and private tragedy which led to legendary director Roman Polanski's sudden flight from the United States.

Film director Roman Polanski is (still) "wanted" by US authorities and "desired" (and respected) in France. This smart, exceptionally well made documentary explains why. When his wife was murdered by Charles Manson, some elements of the press accused Polanski of the crime. The media attention was ugly and enough to make the Polish survivor of German death camps leave the country. He didn't leave. He stayed to make classics like "Chinatown". Several years later, the director had sex with a thirteen-year-old girl. The legal conflagration this created is the center of this documentary. Polanski admitted to the sex act, but he did not plead guilty to the commission of a crime. After being sentenced to a ninety day period of psychological assessment, he was released early. The media outrage at this "reduction" of his sentence forced the sentencing judge to rethink a deal he'd struck with both the defense and prosecution. Meanwhile, having lost all faith in a system corrupted by personal ego and inappropriate grandstanding, Polanski fled to France where he has avoided extradition back to the US ever since. This move put an end to his Hollywood career, but it did not put an end to his film-making. Polanski himself is not interviewed specifically for this film, but he does appear on screen in an interview with UK talkshow maven Clive James. A solid piece of journalism.

Lorenzo von Matterhorn

Super Reviewer


A wonderful look at corruption and justice, even if it's justice we don't agree with. Putting Polanski's crimes to one side, there is no denying he is an exceptional filmmaker. He is able to address a darkness many hope never to experience. It's very easy to see Polanski as a coward that ran from sentencing, but we also have a fascinating story of a judge hungry for fame. That cares more about peoples opinion of him, than he does keeping his word. It's a fascinating battle where everyone appears to be in the wrong, and the two lawyers seem to be the most honest of the bunch. It's a great watch, just for all of the different reactions it can evoke, with Polanski's troubled and harrowing life as a backdrop for greater tragedies to come.

Luke Baldock

Super Reviewer

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