Roman Polanski's latest film gets mixed reviews at Cannes
Filmmaker returns to themes around mental torment that got him original acclaim with Rosemary's Baby
Roman Polanski, whose 1960s films Repulsion and Rosemary's Baby focused on women in mental torment, returns to the same theme in a film that screened at Cannes on Saturday to mixed reviews.
Based on a True Story stars Polanski's wife Emmanuelle Seigner as Delphine, a successful author who makes friends with an overly-keen fan Elle, played by Eva Green, in a relationship that quickly takes on elements of Single White Female.
The French-Polish Polanski is still unable to make films in the United States since fleeing the country in 1978 due to fears that a plea bargain with prosecutors over his sexual assault of a 13-year-old girl would be overruled. But he has continued to have a successful career and remains active at 83, securing a premiere for Based on a True Story in an out-of-competition slot at Cannes.
"I have never made a film where there are two principal female characters — it's always a man and a woman, or two men," Polanski told a news conference of his French-language movie.
There are elements that I dealt with in my first films and I was interested to come back to that type of cinema.- Roman Polanski, filmmaker
"Here, two women oppose each other. It's fascinating. There are elements that I dealt with in my first films and I was interested to come back to that type of cinema."
Polanski cast Eva Green, who is French but made her career in English-speaking movies, including in the 2006 James Bond film Casino Royale. She plays a character who switches from best friend to violent stalker and back and could ultimately be a figment of Delphine's imagination.
"You are always asking, 'does she exist? Doesn't she exist?' And that is a real challenge for an actor, to try to put some flesh on that character," Green said. "Is she a ghost? That's the question."
The Hollywood Reporter's Deborah Young praised Based on a True Story as "a masterfully made psychological thriller in the traditional mode", while Nathalie Simon in Le Figaro called it "grotesque, predictable and funny — not a good sign for a thriller."