Roman Polanski in pole position at Berlin film festival

Mon Feb 15, 2010 4:13am EST
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By Mike Collett-White

BERLIN (Reuters) - Roman Polanski can enjoy a break from sensational headlines about his arrest and misdemeanors and bask in the glow of mostly positive reviews for his latest movie "The Ghost Writer."

The 76-year-old director, under house arrest in his chalet in Gstaad, is among the early frontrunners for prizes at the Berlin film festival this year, although the 10-day competition has yet to reach halfway.

The political thriller based on a novel by Robert Harris is one of 20 movies vying for the Golden Bear for best picture, which Polanski won in 1966 for "Cul-de-Sac."

The fact that it is among the favorites is remarkable given that post-production was completed while Polanski was in a Swiss prison and, later, under house arrest.

"With this immensely enjoyable, satisfyingly convoluted thriller he demonstrates exactly why he is still a force to be reckoned with," Wendy Ide wrote in the Times newspaper.

"From the opening scene it is clear Polanski had complete control, whether or not he was behind bars when he finished it."

The United States is seeking to extradite Polanski to face justice after he fled the country in 1978 on the eve of his formal sentencing for unlawful sex with a 13-year-old girl.

Peter Bradshaw of the Guardian said: "This is his most purely enjoyable picture for years, a Hitchcockian nightmare with a persistent, stomach-turning sense of disquiet, brought off with confidence and dash."   Continued...

<p>Actors (L-R) Pierce Brosnan, Olivia Williams and Ewan McGregor arrive for the screening of the movie "The Ghost Writer" at the 60th Berlinale International Film Festival in Berlin, February 12, 2010. REUTERS/Tobias Schwarz</p>