I eagerly anticipated the release of Roman Polanski's latest film, THE GHOST WRITER. Partly because I think Polanski is a fascinating director, with a technical mastery beyond many of his contemporaries and an obsession with the sinister that is as compelling as it is unwavering. Partly because I have always loved Robert Harris' intelligent, well-researched, political thrillers. And partly because his novel, "The Ghost", is a thinly veiled skewering of a particularly slippery figure - Tony Blair. I was not disappointed. THE GHOST WRITER reminded me a lot of MICHAEL CLAYTON - it's intelligent, suspenseful, provocative and beautifully made. Indeed, quite superbly photographed by DP Pawel Edelman.
The plot centres on an un-named writer (Ewan McGregor) who has been hired to ghost the memoirs of an oleaginous former Prime Minsiter, Adam Lang (a perfectly cast Pierce Brosnan). The plot is driven by his investigation of the accusation that Lang illegally handed war criminals to the CIA. The Ghost doesn't know whether to trust Lang, his wife Ruth (Olivia Williams), his mistress (Kim Cattrall) or his aides. And of course, this being Polanski, there are no idealistic pay-offs for truth-seekers.
When I left the screening I had a wistful feeling. Because as polished and convincing as THE GHOST WRITER is, somehow, because you know it was made by Polanski, and you know what he is capable of achieving, you end up feeling a little short-changed by a "mere" good thriller. I loved the Hitchcock reference, but it wasn't necessary to the plot. And that kind of slight mis-step seemed to me indicative of a true auteur turning in a "place-holder" film.....
THE GHOST WRITER played Berlin 2010 where Roman Polanski won the Silver Bear. It is on release in Germany, Switzerland, Austria, Poland, the US, the Philippines, Belgium, France, Canada, Greece, Israel, Estonia and Italy. It opens this weekend in Denmark and Norway. It opens on April 8th in Portugal and on April 16th in Finland, Spain, Sweden and the UK. It opens in May in Thailand, the Netherlands and Romania. It opens in June in Hungary and the Czech Republic, and on August 19th in Argentina and Slovakia.
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