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Director Roman Polanski's latest film, 'The Ghost Writer,' unspooled Friday during the opening day of the Berlin International Film Festival and though critics were mixed in their reviews, there was one thing everyone agreed upon: This had to be the first time that a director was unable to attend his own film premiere because he was under house arrest.

Polanksi, whose life off-screen has been almost as turbulent as some of the images he's created on-screen, is electronically tethered to a Swiss chalet, awaiting possible extradition to the U.S. on 32-year-old rape charges. But, according to a report at indieWIRE, Polanski's presence hovered over the screening and press conference that followed the Friday morning viewing. Director Roman Polanski's latest film, 'The Ghost Writer,' unspooled Friday during the opening day of the Berlin International Film Festival and though critics were mixed in their reviews, there was one thing everyone agreed upon: This had to be the first time that a director was unable to attend his own film premiere because he was under house arrest.

Polanksi, whose life off-screen has been almost as turbulent as some of the images he's created on-screen, is electronically tethered to a Swiss chalet, awaiting possible extradition to the U.S. on 32-year-old rape charges. But, according to a report at indieWIRE, Polanski's presence hovered over the screening and press conference that followed the Friday morning viewing.

"I must say, it feels weird for us to be here without Roman Polanski at the center of this table," one producer said and, according to indieWIRE, "one by one, the actors and even gushing journalists asking questions, lamented his detention and inability to attend" the debut.

The political thriller, Polanski's first major film since 2002's 'Pianist,' stars Ewan McGregor, Pierce Brosnan, Olivia Williams, Kim Cattrall, Tom Wilkinson and Timothy Hutton. Adapted from Robert Harris' best-selling 2007 novel "The Ghost," the film tells the story of a ghost writer hired to help finish the autobiography of a former disgraced British Prime Minister after the first ghost writer turns up dead under mysterious circumstances. As the thriller progresses, it becomes clear that the ex-PM has a dirty past -- a past that involves the CIA, political prisoners and torture -- and the ghost writer finds his own life in jeopardy.

The film received a mediocre response at the press screening, with, according to one report, members of the audience snickering at some lines. The trade press has been mixed on the film, with The Hollywood Reporter saying that "This is certainly one of the director's most commercial films in a while, perhaps since his great thriller 'Chinatown' ... This is a slicker, shallower exercise. It's hypnotic as it unfolds, but once the credit roll frees you from its grip, it doesn't bear close scrutiny. Summit Entertainment has a sure-fire boxoffice hit domestically." Variety said the film was "Low on sustained tension, and with a weak central perf[ormance] by Ewan McGregor in the titular role." The film lacked "real action or thrills" ... [and] looks set for moderate biz at best in Europe, with much briefer haunting" in North America.

Screen International called the film "A stylish, precise salute to Hitchcock's thrillers but still bearing all the hallmarks of Roman Polanski's distinctive style ... a film lover's delight." And The Guardian called it "the director's most purely enjoyable film in years," saying it's "a Hitchcockian nightmare with a persistent, stomach-turning sense of disquiet, brought off with confidence and dash."

"The Ghost Writer" has it's official world premiere (before a non-press audience) at Berlin Friday night, then opens in limited release in the U.S. on Feb. 19.