The Ghost Writer

7 Apr

Title: The Ghost Writer
Year: 2010
Director: Roman Polanski
Writers: Roman Polanski and Robert Harris, adapting from the novel by Robert Harris
Starring: Ewan McGregor, Pierce Brosnan, Olivia Williams, Kim Cattrall, Timothy Hutton, Tom Wilkinson, Jim Belushi
MPAA Rating: PG-13, language, brief nudity/sexuality, some violence and a drug reference
Runtime: 128 min
Major Awards:
IMDb Rating: 7.9
Rotten Tomatoes: 82%

This is a Roman Polanski film and even though it isn’t one of his best it is still a really good film, the direction and screenplay are truly great and the performances, especially that of Ewan McGregor are just as amazing. It tells the story of a ghost writer hired to complete the memoirs of a British Prime Minister until he discovers some very serious secrets.

This is a Polanski thriller through and through, and the guy is in top form, it’s not a thriller like the ones we see too much of these days, this one is smoother, it takes its time and the suspense builds throughout like crazy, not depending on genre cliché shocks but instead using really great development and plot devices, the work of a true master.

Polanski was arrested, as we know, last September in Switzerland, but that didn’t stop production, and that certainly didn’t stop his involvement, he oversaw every artistic direction and editing process from a Swiss prison, and it shows, with a director like Polanski his genius touch is quite obvious.

The ghost writer is played by McGregor, Brosnan plays the former British Prime Minister Adam Lang, who was ever so clearly modeled after Tony Blair, Olivia Williams is his wife Ruth, and Kim Cattrall is his aide Amelia, with whom he’s having an affair. That’s a really cool cast, and a cast that acts extremely well in this one, especially, as I said, McGregor as the ghost.

Once we get introduced to that story the story gets going, Lang is accused of accepting the kidnapping and torture of suspects when he was in office, which then leaves the Ghost at the huge house alone, searching for secrets that could turn out deadly. This film succeeds tremendously because of Polanski, it truly is the work of a master, the way he evokes Hitchcock and all the other great masters of the genre is both evident and commendable.

It’s a truly good film, featuring remarkable performances by the whole cast, headlined by the lead one of McGregor and a solid supporting turn by Williams and it shows how a legendary director can still be at the top of his craft when he sticks to what legendary directors know, which is the importance of craftsmanship over cheap gimmicks which plague these sort of films as of late.

That’s why The Ghost Writer succeeds, because it brings to mind, as did Shutter Island which I saw on the same day this past February, how truly nice it is to see a film that has a good story, and mostly because it makes us remember the pleasure we get when we watch a film that’s just well directed, everything from the outside shots, to how Polanski works with his actors, with subtle touches from the scene when a note is passed from hand to hand to the way his actors are posed, this is a well-thought-out film.

Grade: B+

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