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Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired (2008)



Average Rating: 7.4/10
Reviews Counted: 47
Fresh: 41 | Rotten: 6

A courtroom drama and an exploration of celebrity and responsibility.


Average Rating: 7.3/10
Critic Reviews: 15
Fresh: 12 | Rotten: 3

A courtroom drama and an exploration of celebrity and responsibility.



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Average Rating: 3.7/5
User Ratings: 3,086

My Rating

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

Jan 27, 2009


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All Critics (49) | Top Critics (15) | Fresh (41) | Rotten (6) | DVD (5)

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.

July 25, 2008 Full Review Source: Globe and Mail
Globe and Mail
Top Critic IconTop 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.

July 25, 2008 Full Review Source: San Francisco Chronicle
San Francisco Chronicle
Top Critic IconTop 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.

July 25, 2008 Full Review Source: Toronto Star
Toronto Star
Top Critic IconTop 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.

July 25, 2008 Full Review Source: Seattle Times
Seattle Times
Top Critic IconTop Critic

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

July 25, 2008 Full Review Source: Chicago Reader
Chicago Reader
Top Critic IconTop 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.

July 25, 2008 Full Review Source: Chicago Sun-Times
Chicago Sun-Times
Top Critic IconTop Critic

If you're not a diehard fan of Polanski I can't see the pic holding your attention, as it lacks intrigue.

November 17, 2013 Full Review Source: Ozus' World Movie Reviews
Ozus' World Movie Reviews

Some might confuse Zenovich's indictment on the judge as a cop-out in judging Polanski. But the facts remain. There's no further insight into the heinous crime. Nor is there a new judgment to be passed on the man who committed it. Anyone looking for new r

October 1, 2009 Full Review Source:

"Zenovich's film is a fair and skillful chronicling of the Roman Polanski case, and a study of how the circumstances of celebrity influence the carrying out of justice in the U.S. It's not an in-depth study of the filmmaker's psychology nor of how his lif

September 30, 2009 Full Review Source:

The film's verdict is that Polanski is too distinguished to persecute by placing him in a prison among, well, criminals. Wanted And Desired: A premeditated act of propaganda in the service of exoneration with a creative genius defense, instead of remorse.

September 27, 2009 Full Review Source: NewsBlaze

A judiciously argued account with intriguing asides

August 26, 2009 Full Review Source: CinePassion

While not apologising for his disgusting behaviour, the film puts Polanski's actions in the context of a turbulent life.

June 19, 2009 Full Review Source: Time Out Sydney
Time Out Sydney

an essential entry in Hollywood's cultural chronicle

May 8, 2009 Full Review Source: Cinema Writer
Cinema Writer

Mesmo tendo criado uma narrativa envolvente, coesa e impecável a ponto de servir como base para os advogados de Polanski solicitarem o arquivamento do caso, este documentário foi ignorado pela Academia. Arre.

December 3, 2008
Cinema em Cena

What makes Wanted and Desired riveting is that Zenovich balances this immorality play by interviewing nearly everyone involved and mixes it with perfectly culled archival footage.

September 12, 2008 Full Review Source: Oregonian

This chronicle of Polanski's life, career and legal woes offers an engaging portrait of the artist.

August 8, 2008 Full Review Source: IGN Movies
IGN Movies

Marina Zenovich's documentary is that it fills in a lot of crucial details (including a few new ones), primarily about the rape and its aftermath.

August 1, 2008

It's the sort of complex story Polanski himself would have excelled at telling, if he weren't busy living it.

August 1, 2008
Salt Lake Tribune

Meticulously crafted and keenly thought out, the film also serves as a useful historical document. It illuminates its time period, delves into moral hypocrisy and shows the evolution of muck-raking celebrity journalism.

July 25, 2008 Full Review Source: Jam! Movies
Jam! Movies

I found myself occasionally enthralled, mainly due to Polanski's haunted presence coming through, even in the form of an absent ghost.

July 25, 2008 Full Review Source: Combustible Celluloid
Combustible Celluloid

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.
April 1, 2012

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.
August 8, 2010
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.
January 29, 2010

Super Reviewer

Wanted and Desired isn't a particularly entertaining or dynamic documentary (I fell asleep twice during it, but in the film's defense it was Thanksgiving Day), but if nothing else it gives you a more clear understanding of what happened behind the scenes of Roman Polanski's controversial trial from the mid-70s. If you're a fan of archival footage intercut with movie scenes and interviews you're in luck. Filmmaker Marina Zenovich seems to be in Polanski's corner and I kind of took the same stance. As far as Polanski's concerned, the guy survived the Holocaust and his wife and friends were slaughtered by the Mansons. I'm not saying that should give someone carte blanche to dope and cornhole a teenager, but when even the family of said teenager is calling bullshit on the case, something's seriously wrong. And as far this documentary getting made just when you thought all the dust was settled? All I've got to say is never trust lifetime awards from Swiss film festivals...
November 26, 2009

Super Reviewer

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Foreign Titles

  • Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired (DE)
  • Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired (UK)
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