Placed in the steady
hands of an old master, Robert Harris’ book The Ghost becomes a
classically captivating thriller. Director Roman Polanski, who also
co-wrote the screenplay with Harris, brings us simple, confident
subtlety and successfully conjures memories of Hitchcock in both look
Ghost (Ewan McGregor, looking remarkable in his late 30s) is a
well-known writer of memoirs for well-known figures. He is asked to
consider replacing a writer who died whilst working on the upcoming work
of former UK PM Adam Lang (Pierce Brosnan).
Whisked away to a remote island in the US, he is in a billionaire’s
compound with his script, the PM’s wife (Olivia Williams is simply
electric and I wish she had been on screen more!), the PM’s personal
assistant and possibly paramour (Kim Cattrall with a more substantial
persona than her Sex and the City alter-ego) and occasionally,
book was meant to be a sappy recounting of a beloved former national
leader, but tension escalates when Lang comes under fire from former
colleagues and embroiled in a war crimes trial. The CNN universe bursts
across the compound and The Ghost is left in the wreck, attempting to
work to a shortening deadline. During his investigations of dates, he
finds a lot more than he ever expected or imagined...
Ghost Writer is very enjoyable. The pace is great, the tension is
well-placed and one feels your in the hands of a director with complete
creative control. Watching the movie, I kept telling myself silly things
like “Oh I remember now: movies are supposed to thrill and excite you.”
I had the impression of being transported convincingly into the lives of
people very unknown to me who have feelings and thoughts which are very
known to me.
Despite my initial dislike of the bleak setting, its own type of beauty
grew on me. I also liked the dialogue, which is very “grown up” and
without the urge to over-explain things. This may arise from the fact
that, though largely set in the US, the film is an Anglo-Franco-German
co-production (with the chilly North Sea standing in for New England).
is much speculation about the intended and unintended similarity of the
Lang household to real-life former PM Tony Blair and his wife Cherie.
With the context of Iraqi war crimes in the background of The Ghost
Writer, this link cannot but be made. However, Harris claims that he
conceived the idea for the story 15 years ago. At any rate, it makes
little difference to the film as a top-notch thriller, and the link to
real-life former politicians will only fade as time passes.
long-standing legal case against Polanski (recently receiving news
airtime thanks to his threatened extradition to the U.S.) prevents him
from returning to U.S soil. He finished the film while under
house-arrest in Switzerland, and manages to create an enthralling
glimpse into the way those in power function, especially when their
underlings get caught in the elite political system’s cogs.
Definitely not one to miss.