out of Five
Running time: 128
Beautifully directed and superbly written, this is a thoroughly gripping thriller with terrific performances from Ewan McGregor, Pierce Brosnan and Olivia Williams.
What's it all about?
Directed by Roman Polanski, The Ghost Writer is based on the novel by Robert Harris and stars Ewan McGregor as a British ghost writer, who's hired to work on the memoirs of former Prime Minister Adam Lang (Pierce Brosnan). Flown to a remote coastal location in Cape Cod, he begins working with Lang, his wife Ruth (Olivia Williams) and his assistant Amelia (Kim Cattrall) but something doesn't feel right and when he discovers some secret documents, he feels compelled to investigate the suspicious death of his predecessor.
Part of the fun of The Ghost Writer comes from the fact that Brosnan and Williams are playing thinly veiled versions of Tony and Cherie Blair. As such, both actors deliver terrific performances: Brosnan nails Blair's grinning public persona and charming mateyness, while Williams has a much more complex role as Ruth, whose seething anger masks surprising depths.
McGregor is perfectly cast too – we learn next to nothing about his character (he's not even named), and yet we root for him to succeed, thanks to McGregor's charismatic on-screen persona. He also generates intriguing chemistry with both Brosnan and Williams, while there's strong support from Cattrall and compelling single scene turns from Robert Pugh (as a former Foreign Minister), Tom Wilkinson (as an American professor who was at Cambridge with Lang) and Eli Wallach as an elderly neighbour on Cape Cod.
Polanski maintains a firm grip on the material, aided by Pawel Edelman's striking cinematography (which makes great use of the cloudy, windswept locations) and a fabulous, Hitchcock-inspired score from the wonderfully named Alexandre Desplat. In addition, the script is excellent: the dialogue crackles with darkly funny lines and the mystery is thoroughly gripping, even if the finale does seem a little anti-climactic.
This is a superbly written, brilliantly directed thriller with a trio of terrific performances from Brosnan, Williams and McGregor. Highly recommended.
The Ghost Writer (M)