At 76, Roman Polanski has made a film that is fully worthy of sitting alongside his masterpieces of the 1960s and ’70s. In fact, The Ghost Writer has much in common with some of those films. The film starts with an ominous scene on a ferry at night where the exiting cars have to go around one car because its driver isn’t there. His body washes up on a beach, and he’s presumed to have drunkenly fallen overboard during the crossing. The man’s death is what sets the plot in motion, since he had been ghostwriting the autobiography of a Tony Blair-like former British prime minister Adam Lang (Pierce Brosnan), allowing for the introduction of a new ghostwriter — a character of so little personal substance that he’s billed simply as the Ghost (Ewan McGregor). His job is to infuse some life into the apparently deadly dull manuscript. The Ghost almost literally steps into the shoes of his late predecessor at Lang’s isolated and carefully guarded Martha’s Vineyard beach house, an uninvitingly gray structure of sterile modern design. The inhabitants are scarcely more inviting, consisting of Lang’s seemingly neglected wife, Ruth (Olivia Williams), Lang’s assistant and obvious mistress, Amelia (Kim Cattrall), some taciturn servants, and Lang himself. Lang invariably addresses the Ghost as “man,” undermining any identity McGregor’s character might have. The Ghost slowly takes on the characteristics of his predecessor, following the same clues that led to his fate and might well lead to a similar one for the Ghost. A compelling, intelligent blend of psychological and political thriller that ranks as one of the best films so far of 2010.
Director: Roman Polanski
Writer: Roman Polanski and Robert Harris
Producer: Roman Polanski, Robert Benmussa and Alain Sarde
Cast: Ewan McGregor, Pierce Brosnan, Olivia Williams, Kim Cattrall, Eli Wallach, James Belushi, Tom Wilkinson, Timothy Hutton, Jon Bernthal and Robert Pugh