Film Review: The Ghost (2010)

“Well don’t tell me you’re going to read it now”

Roman Polanski’s The Ghost, retitled The Ghost Writer in the rest of the world, may have been released in 2010 but remains as powerfully pertinent and indeed politically relevant as ever. Based on the Robert Harris novel of the same name, Ewan McGregor’s nameless protagonist is employed by former British PM Adam Lang, a slippery Pierce Brosnan, to finish his memoirs at the Martha’s Vineyard residence where he’s staying with his wife Ruth, an excellent Olivia Williams.

The task in hand is made more complicated though when Lang is indicted for potential war crimes in collusion with the US administration and the writer is forced to live in-house, where his tentative investigations into Lang’s career uncover conspiracy after conspiracy. The parallels with Tony Blair are clear but not overworked and Polanski’s delivery of a tense thriller with a strong narrative is superlatively done here.

Pawel Edelman’s cinematography is simply gorgeous, focusing on the austere bleakness of the almost-futuristic house and the windswept coolness of the off-season island and supported by Alexandre Desplat’s evocative score, this is really elegant film-making. The twists and turns of the plot may not always be the most sophisticated but they’re always gripping as Polanski’s cinematic vision is realised so entirely real here.

McGregor is excellent as the everyman figure unaware of how deep he is digging, Brosnan and Williams both impress as people adapting to life after frontline politics yet still so firmly in its grip and Kim Cattrall as PA Amelia Bly has a Hitchcockian feel to her enigmatic role. A genuinely thrilling thriller.

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