The key word here is suspense, the perfect blend of a director at the peak of his powers, a script that beautifully works with a source without diluting its essence or compromising its subject matter, and with a timing so perfect that no false note is hit, enrapturing its audience, never letting go, pushing its limits as the audience awaits its incredible resolution.McGregor plays a hired writer who comes in to assist Lang Brossnan in the publication of his memoirs. Timing couldn't get worse as an unexpected complication ensues and many people's lives and reputations are suddenly in <more>
danger. As the film reaches its conclusion, with tensions and levels of paranoia reaching unheard limits, it's got our attention, and it has earned every bit of it.The quality of the writing is impressive, with no false moves, no red herrings, no unnecessary distractions, no manipulations to sway you one way or another. What we have is a mix of intrigue, action, Shakespearean drama, and performers who might never be this good again. Polanski channels Hitchcock at his best, using Desplat's driving score himself channeling Herrman , and just when it all could have been a tribute, it soars above its inspiration.Among so many impressive elements, one has to mention the note perfect and outstanding Olivia Williams, an actress that has moved on from being physically alluring to developing acting talents which could rank her with Streep and Close because of her impeccable and powerful turn. Here is a woman who hardly resorts to gimmicks, but takes the most normal of situations and weaves a wave of intrigue that would leave you breathless."The Ghost Writer" is a mystery, a thriller, a tribute to the masters who inspired the genre and might even surpass all those sources of inspiration. The film mixes politics with an old fashion thrills and makes us wonder why Hollywood hasn't made movies like this more often. It's early in the year, but it's going to be hard to find anything that can even come close to this movie, a film that is as perfect as anything any director has ever put together, Hitchcock included.
Polanski does some of his best work in a long time in this nearly-flawless and beautiful-looking film. Engaging story, interesting characters, incredible mood and sense of place amazingly, locations in Germany substituted brilliantly for Martha's Vineyard -- having spent some time on the Vineyard, I was completely convinced that's what I was seeing, forgetting during the film that Polanski wouldn't have set foot on U.S. soil , more implied violence than any real screen violence for those who like suspense but stay away from thrillers because of worry about violence, don't <more>
worry -- it's all about suspense and intrigue. Every shot is gorgeous. Fun references to CHINATOWN, and especially Billy Wilder's SUNSET BOULEVARD. Lovely performances by Olivia Williams, who is sexy and vulnerable, Pierce Brosnan, the absolutely always brilliant Tom Wilkinson and an extraordinary cameo by Actors Studio legend Eli Wallach he still has the chops! . The ending caps a perfect film perfectly, and the MacGuffin is great fun. If you like vintage Hitchcock, and especially if you like the best work of Polanski, don't miss it. I'm ready to see it again and watch how it's put together.
An involving story that deeply immerses us in the experience (by howard.schumann)
Instead of using fast cuts and other modern cinematic gimmicks, Roman Polanski's The Ghost Writer relies on an involving story that deeply immerses us in the experience, a tribute to his immense skill as a director. Based on the novel Ghost written by Robert Harris, the film is about an unnamed author Ewan McGregor who is hired to complete the memoirs of former British Minister Adam Lang Pierce Brosnan after the previous ghost writer was found dead, his body washed up on a beach in New England.Although it is a suspense thriller, The Ghost Writer also makes a sharp political statement, <more>
creating a main character that very much resembles former British Prime Minister Tony Blair Harris, himself was a strong supporter of Blair until he broke with him over Britain's participation in the war in Iraq and Blair's subordination to U.S. foreign policy interests . Because Polanski was banned from the U.S. because of an event that occurred 32 years ago, the film was shot in Germany and its depiction of Martha's Vineyard in Massachusetts is recreated on the island of Sylt in the North Sea.Opening as a ferry disembarks suspiciously leaving one car behind, the film establishes a mood of unease and danger from the outset, aided by an atmospheric score by Alexandre Desplat. People talk about the drowning of the previous ghost writer as being either an accident or a suicide yet, like many CIA-assisted suicides, it is suspicious right off the bat or off the boat and the new author soon finds himself buried in intrigue when he visits Lang in his security-entrenched compound on the seacoast.McGregor is a blank slate, an ambitious young man presumably just out to take in a huge paycheck but after reading Lang's autobiography and finding it to be a "cure for insomnia," he is determined to have the former Prime Minister share his life and work in a more authentic manner. The writer is invited to stay in the compound where Lang resides with his very articulate and somewhat bitter wife Ruth Olivia Williams who suspects his assistant Amelia Kim Cattrall to be his mistress. McGregor's autobiographical work is interrupted when he hears in the news that Lang has been accused of war crimes by a former minister and is being investigated by the World Court.To appear to be engaging in business as usual, Lang travels to Washington in a private jet owned by a company with a name similar to Halliburton, where he is defended against the accusations by a State Secretary who looks very much like Condoleezza Rice. At home, however, protesters show up on the island together with hordes of press and Ruth has to turn to the author for some physical and mental solace as the plot swoops and dives into unpredictable twists and turns that keeps us off balance until the powerful conclusion.Heading an outstanding cast, Brosnan delivers a strong performance that strikes the right balance between fear and arrogance and McGregor is also pitch perfect. Winner of a Silver Bear in Berlin for Best Director, The Ghost Writer shows Polanski at the top of his form and in total control of the medium. Even though he had to complete the final editing of his film in a Swiss jail and under house arrest in Switzerland, the fact that it still bears the stamp of his genius is a tribute not only to his art but also to his character.
A great thriller in the tradition of Hitchcock and Rosemary's Baby (by eliot_axelrod)
This is a connoisseur's movie. It needs to be consumed slowly and deliberately to truly enjoy everything that has gone into it. Watch it carefully, there is a lot going on under the surface.Yes, it's a thriller, and as such parts of it are fast paced, but what it does so well is to misdirect your attention for a while before snapping you back to focus.There are no wasted words, nor gratuitous scenes in this movie. Just like a Hitchcock movie, the scenes are all necessary, even if they are symbolic.The acting is first rate, and I say that because much of the tension in the movie comes <more>
from the way the characters act, not special effects, not plot points hammered in over and over again.It is a very dark movie, and the darkness is nicely set off by humor and sarcasm in a few spots.
Got to see this at a pre-release screening and wound up chewing my thumbnails down to the quick with the tension!Though I am a huge Roman Polanski fan of his work, not necessarily the man I haven't really been crazy about any of his films since "Death and the Maiden" "The Pianist" was technically superb but left me cold . At last, my patience has been rewarded."The Ghost Writer" is a stylish, edge-of-your-seat political thriller that, on the basis of suspense, twists, corruption, and an ensnared hero unable to grasp the enormity of what he's up <more>
against, can be looked on as a contemporary companion piece to Roman Polanski's "Chinatown." It's Polanski reveling in the art of skillful storytelling, and at age 76, it's clear he has not lost his touch. Collaborating with author Robert Harris from his novel "The Ghost" film title expanded, no doubt, to avoid misleading Polanski fans who would assume a return to the supernatural Polanski has fashioned a real nail-biter that, thanks to the solid performances and deft plotting, plays extremely well whether you like politics or know much about foreign policy.Ewan McGregor is a writer hired to ghost-write the memoirs of a former British Prime Minister Pierce Brosnan after the previous collaborator commits suicide maybe . Almost immediately life begins to get, shall I say, complicated for McGregor as he is shuttled off to a spartan, fortress-like mansion on the American East Coast to work on the book and there encounters a catalog of the kind of slightly-off kilter characters that Polanski casts and directs so well. There's the unsettlingly mercurial Prime Minister, his caustic wife Olivia Williams, who, simply put, steals the movie out from under everyone's noses , the icy assistant Kim Cattrall, better than I thought she could ever be , and an entire corps of strange and secretive supporting players, all the better to keep you guessing just what is going on up to the absolutely socko conclusion. Can't say what readers of the novel will think of the film, but as someone who went into the film ignorant of the plot, I have to say it was a real thrill ride and held many didn't-see-that-coming surprises. So many of Polanski's trademark themes are showcased black humor, a preoccupation with "foreignness," paranoia, the pervasiveness of evil , but best of all, it's a pleasure to see an intelligent thriller that is extremely well acted.The look of the film is as chilly as the underlying message, and the cast is populated with some startling casting choices very well used I would have liked to have seen more of Eli Wallach, though . There is much to recommend in "The Ghost Writer," not the least of which being that Nicholas Cage originally cast dropped out before filming!
Polanski and McGregor, a wonderful match (by maureenmcqueen)
Ewan McGregor gets rid of every ounce of glamour and allows his Polanskian character to emerge. I though, a few years ago, Polanski could have played him himself the way he played so beautifully in "The Tenant" Those two characters are not that far apart. Taking over an apartment or a job from someone who leaves the scene under very mysterious circumstances is practically the same thing. McGregor, however, is superb. In "The Ghost Writer" events play close to the knuckle. Who is Pierce Brosnan? Tony Blair? and Olivia Williams? Classic film-making at its best. Compelling <more>
and visually stunning. The score by Alexander Desplat reminded me of Bernard Herrman and the atmosphere is so thick that the film's 2 hours plus fly by at an amazing speed. Polanski at 77 doesn't show any signs of jadedness. He is in total control. Hurrah for that!
Not great but extremely entertaining (by judywalker2)
I have been waiting to see this movie since I saw the trailer and not just because it starred Pierce Bronsnan. This film looked and sounded very interesting and I have to say that it was. It might be slow for some people who are use to modern movies where things move at a fast pace mostly to go nowhere . It keeps your interest and has a nice twist at the end. The acting was superb, even the minor roles, such as Timothy Hutton who I miss on the big screen did a great job with a really small role. Sure it wasn't a great thriller but it has a lot of good elements that make it suspenseful. <more>
Also this movie has a lot of humor and doesn't take itself so seriously which is great too. It's a really good balance and I would see it again.
Old-fashioned noir, beautifully crafted for modern audiences (by Chris_Docker)
The Ghost is the story of a ghost writer who wins an assignment to tidy up the memoirs of a recently ex British Prime Minister to turn them into a best seller. It's set in the United States, and revolves around unproven accusations of allowing suspected terrorists to be extradited and tortured. The previous ghost writer has been found dead.I found this a tense thriller with the added attraction of that pointed economy of execution for which Europeanised Hollywood of which Polanski must be one of the leading exponents is famed. As was often the case with Hitchcock, the story, camera <more>
framing, and a sense of mounting anticipation, produce more suspense than any amount of car chases, expensive stunts, intrusive music or grandstanding of stars.Polanski's choice of stars is interesting, particularly as the two lead parts Pierce Brosnan as former Prime Minister, Adam Lang and Ewan McGregor as the ghost are known more for their 'star-appeal' performances than any detailed character acting. Yet they are perfectly cast, both for their on screen personas and for the space given them to develop. When Brosnan comes alive in sudden fits of rage almost recalling Frank Langella in Frost/Nixon we become more aware of his considerable strength as an actor, allowing the character – deliberately something of a stereotype – to shine through. The ploy is somewhat less successful though with Kim Cattrall, who seems forever in her Sex and the City persona. or Tom Wilkinson, who sadly seems to have just been wheeled in just to read lines from a supporting role. A less recognisable face in the formidable array of stars is Olivia Williams Miss Stubbs in An Education, and also making a return in the new series of Dollhouse . So when Williams, as Lang's wife Ruth, shows unexpected fire and passion we are taken by surprise – without any of the voyeuristic appeal of watching Ewan McGregor bare his bottom – as he, or his double, does quite readily.The Ghost can be watched on two levels. Firstly it can be enjoyed as a straightforward thriller of a traditional sort. Aimed at modern audiences, it has plenty of sudden shocks but less twists and turns than, say, Chinatown. Even the ending has been simplified from the original script, which would have given a further meaning to the title and the whole film: but at the risk of being perhaps a little too clever.But for those who want to draw unsettling comparisons, there is a fairly heavy-handed likeness to accusations about Tony Blair's complicity in what have been termed war crimes. And as Adam Lang, ensconced on an island off the east coast of America, far from the reach of the International Court of Justice to which America does not subscribe , is pulled deeper into the plot of conspiracy theorists, another reading is easy to find: Polanski's own isolation for alleged crimes committed many years ago. For those that want to follow such parallels, there is a US Secretary of State that looks worrying like Condoleezza Rice. And when Lang refuses an invitation to go to London for fear of arrest, it might possibly recall Polanski's comment, "The last time I went to a festival to get a prize I ended up in jail." The Ghost is a beautifully 'hand-crafted' film, almost belonging to the age of noir, when characters were shadows and revelations exposed with dramatic force rather than loud bangs. Perhaps not as flashy as masterpieces such as Chinatown or Rosemary's Baby, The Ghost is still a welcome addition of quality and sleek design when the market for such dramas is swamped with bad stories and cluttered execution.
I've taken a long time to form a comment after seeing this film. I think it deserves as much depth as the makers put into it. If it is the last film that Polanski is allowed to make, it will be worthy of him, and the way he has taught us to glance aside to catch the devil that walks beside us and sometimes speaks for us.The story could not be better, both pulled from reality and from genre. The genre bits have allpowerful agents, Blackwater-like paramilitary and chases. Death. The real bits have lying politicians who needlessly kill by the million and spend by the trillion. There is <more>
marital and writerly deception. All of it is posing; most of it twists as if that were necessary for us to think our money well spent.Polanksi spends a lot of energy here as always making the place be as complicated as the people in the place. We meet the place first. We understand it first because we know the place, the world, matters and the people are merely like the leaves that the old gardener puts up over and over. The people don't matter in the sense of having will. They only matter in terms of what they can reach and damage.Ewan McGregor started his career understanding this sort of film-making, film-making where the making matters. The tone is everything; the story is just there for color. I think that at some point we will be calling him the new model of male actor, after the Brando generation Penn, Depp . You have to convey that you know that the viewer knows you are acting and why.Ted's Evaluation -- 3 of 3: Worth watching.