“If I were making a film of myself, I would definitely start with my childhood” said Director Roman Polanski in a 1987 interview with Diane Sawyer. Director and star of “Polanski Unauthorized” Damian Chapa does exactly this in his timely new biopic of the infamous Polish director.

Directed by:Damian Chapa
Starring: Damian Chapa
Runtime: 90 min

Chapa starts the film in 1939, where we meet the young and happy boy version of Polanski and his loving parents. In a rather clichƒ© move, each time the film flashes back to this period, it’s shot in black and white.

The film jumps between periods in his life in absolutely no chronological order.

The film begins in 1939 then jumps between the years 1968, 1977 and 1966 with no specific pattern. Chapa doesn’t spend much time in each year, which might confuse some viewers at first, as the storyline seems disjointed. However, what we are getting from Chapa with this style of story-telling, are bits and pieces of Polanski’s life, which is all the public has anyway.

What ultimately holds this film back is the excessive use of symbolism. Showing Polanski’s childhood in Nazi-occupied Poland is enough for people to grasp that he knew the horrors of war growing up and was most likely haunted by them. There really isn’t a need to include the Devil as a central character, constantly on Polanski’s back and having conversations with him.

Polanski is such a divisive figure in the mind of the American public and that is what this film successfully delivers. We see Polanski the Holocaust survivor, the director, the visionary, the womanizer, the criminal, the fugitive, the husband, the father and the haunted man. And while Chapa may not look very much like Polanski, he has the speaking cadences and mannerisms down precisely to deliver a convincing performance.

“Polanski Unauthorized” is now available on DVD

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