Damian Chapa’s Polanski: Unauthorized

Posted by Greg on Dec 23, 2009 in Movies

With all the buzz surrounding Roman Polanski’s time spent in jail, it seemed almost a foregone conclusion that a movie would be made on his behalf. Sure enough, low-level actor Damian Chapa has undertaken the dubious task of portraying the ethically challenged filmmaker, detaiing the director’s highest of highs and lowest of lows. From his war-torn childhood to his brief marriage with Sharon Tate, Polanski: Unauthorized pulls no punches. The only problem with the film is that save for the flashbacks to his childhood in Poland and a handful of scenes with his Hollywood contemporaries, there’s not much that’s entirely enticing about the film. The late David Carradine, a close friend of Chapa’s has gone on record as saying, “Chapa is Polanski,” and the statement is udeniably true. If one thing stands out, it is Chapa’s ucanny ability to tap into the dark mind of one of cinema’s most polarizing figures. Though the cinematography and porous screenplay straddle the histrionics of a soap opera, select scenes are worth coming back to. The film’s biggest drawback is a bevy of scenes in which Polanski converses with The Devil. Their often lengthy dialogue detracts from Chapa evading his way around tricky situations, which is the very essence of the film. And yet for all its down moments, Polanski: Unauthorized is still mildly compelling. Sure its disturbing, creepy and tough to sit through, but a film about a sex offender doesn’t exactly marry itself to a Disney pedigree. In sum, while it’s probably not worth owning, there’s little reason to not add it to the Netflix queue. If anything it proves that even the most unheralded of actors can often turn a ho-hum screenplay into something worth watching.

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