The Ghost Writer (Roman Polanski, 2010): France/Germany/UK

Reviewed by William Conlin. Viewed in the Fe Bland Forum at Santa Barbara City College.

Being a fan of Robert Harris’ wonderfully crafted political thriller The Ghost I was absolutely thrilled when Roman Polanski took on the task of adapting it to the screen. What resulted was the subtle, suspenseful and brilliantly bleak The Ghost Writer.

The Ghost Writer is the story of a man with no name (Ewen McGregor). He helps famous figures finish their memoirs without any recognition. He is hired to finish the autobiography of Adam Lang (Pierce Brosnan), the former Prime Minister of England, when his first ghost mysteriously winds up dead. As The Ghost works on the book he is embroiled in the mystery of his predecessor’s death and caught up in a game of international political intrigue.

The Ghost Writer shows that not only does Roman Polanski still have it, it shows he may just be hitting his stride. With bleak visuals, stunning production design and staggering mise-en-scene, I found myself running out of complimentary words for this film.

First (and this is a compliment), McGregor is exquisitely pedestrian, embodying The Ghost’s invisible nature immediately. Brosnan gives a strong supporting turn as the embattled ex-head of state (which, in my opinion, starts the long road to recovery for his role in Mamma Mia!), while performances from Olivia Williams, Kim Cattrall and a special appearance by the unrelenting Eli Wallach provide this film with a ensemble worthy of Polanski’s brilliance.

I remember being thrilled to see The Ghost Writer in theaters. Having a birthday in late March I usually find the cinematic fare somewhat substandard but this amazing film was released in the USA in mid-March. I specifically waited until my birthday to watch this masterpiece and I wasn’t disappointed. If you are interested in a well-crafted, well-performed political thriller, The Ghost Writer is the film for you! 10/10

About this entry