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The Ghost Writer

A movie directed by Roman Polanski

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'It's all in the beginnings.'

  • Aug 4, 2010
  • by
THE GHOST WRITER begins in medias res - no credits, no lead in, just a dead body lying along the coast of either Cape Cod or Martha's Vineyard, and this creepy beginning remains the tenor throughout this very smart and very gripping drama based on the book 'The Ghost' by Robert Harris as adapted for the screen by the author and by the director Roman Polanski (the Cape Cod/Martha's Vineyard scenes were shot in Germany due to the political decisions about Polanski's being in the US). This is one of those films, thankfully, that requires full attention for its 128 minute duration, as every word of the dialog is meaningful and additive to the plot/conundrum of the story.

Adam Lang (Pierce Brosnan) is the British Prime Minister, electing to live in the US with his wife Ruth (Olivia Williams) and crew including his personal secretary Amelia (Kim Cantrall) while the media and the public in England is outraged at the news that Lang has allegedly turned over suspected terrorists to the CIA, a move that includes the dastardly water torture rendition. Lang is in the process of writing his memoirs with a ghost writer who just happens to be the man we saw dead in the surf at films opening. On the mainland agent Rick Ricardelli (Jon Bernthal) convinces one of his clients to be the replacement for the dead ghost writer - the unnamed ghost is Ewan McGregor. Reluctantly the new ghost travels out to the home of Lang and in studying the apparently inept memoir manuscript begins his re-write. Slowly incidents occur that lead the ghost to information that all is not as it appears with Adam Lang: meetings with an apparent old Cambridge friend Paul Emmett (Tom Wilkinson), a wily old codger who has seen a lot on the beaches (Eli Wallach), and a time alone with Ruth while Lang is away with Amelia on a speaking tour to assuage the public hate are mixed with espionage like incidents and ultimately discoveries as to the truth about Lang. Ghost eventually breaks the code that is hidden in plain sight. It is a tight story and on that holds attention well for the long duration of the film. There are some fine actors in small roles - James Belushi, Timothy Hutton, etc - and every detail of the script and acting is first rate. The cinematography by Pawel Edelman and the musical score by the superb Alexandre Desplat add greatly to the atmosphere. But it is the gift of Polanski that maintains the chilling tension so much a part of his directorial influence that makes this film memorable. The idea of the story is a terrifying concept that is too plausible for comfort and Polanski makes it work well. Grady Harp, August 10

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More The Ghost Writer (2010) reviews
review by . July 23, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
 Roman Polanski is  one of cinema's top directors directing such revered classics such as "Nó w wodzie"( Knife in the Water) Polanski's directorial debut, "Repulsion"(1965),  the noir classic "Chinatown"(1974), "Tess"(1979),  "Frantic"(1988)," Cul-De- Sac"(1966), "Le Locataire" (The Tenant),  "The Pianist"(2002) and "Oliver Twist"(2005). Over the last forty-eight years, …
Quick Tip by . October 09, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
I think I liked the book better, but the movie's certainly well worth watching and very nicely done.
Quick Tip by . September 28, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
This film had real potential to be a great thriller and it benefits from a masterful director, a strong script, a good cast, and suspenseful music. Unfortunately, the "twist ending" was terribly predictable and the finale left a lot to be desired.
Quick Tip by . August 16, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
Although at times a little slow & puzzling, it manages to stay captivating and entertaining till the very end. Reasonably good movie if you're into politics.
review by . June 12, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
I wasn't sure about this movie initially, but it was one of the options on my trans-pacific flight and starred Pierce Brosnan and Ewan McGregor so I thought I tried it. I typically don't like these sorts or mystery thrillers, but this one was pretty compelling. Aside from the fact that the Brosnan character (Prime Minister Adam Lang) sounds suspiciously like Tony Blair, the plot is both original and well-developed. It takes some great twists and turns. Definitely entertaining, Brosnan and McGregor …
Quick Tip by . July 23, 2010
An absorbing, highly intelligent and meticulously conspiracy/political thriller that defines the meaning of the conspiracy thriller by taking the sub-genre back to the days when theses types of movies were at the top of there game. The Ghost Writer" is a classic film with a modern twist.
About the reviewer
Grady Harp ()
Ranked #40
Grady Harp is a champion of Representational Art in the roles of curator, lecturer, panelist, writer of art essays, poetry, critical reviews of literature, art and music, and as a gallerist. He has presented … more
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Oscar-winning director Roman Polanksi (The Pianist) teams up with author-screenwriter Robert Harris (Enigma) for this twisty political thriller. Ewan McGregor plays an unnamed ghostwriter who signs on to pen the memoirs of former British prime minister Adam Lang (Pierce Brosnan). The money is good, but there's a catch: the ghost's predecessor perished under mysterious circumstances (his body washed up on the shore in an apparent suicide). Being the adventurous sort, the ghost puts that information aside and travels to Lang's austere compound on Martha's Vineyard, where he meets Lang's efficient personal secretary, Amelia (Kim Cattrall, good but for an inconsistent accent), and acerbic wife, Ruth (An Education's Olivia Williams). Just as he's wading through Lang's dull text, the PM's ex-cabinet minister accuses him of handing over suspected terrorists to the CIA, fully aware that torture would be on the agenda. The next thing the ghost knows, he's working for a possible war criminal, and the deeper he digs, the more convinced he becomes that Lang is lying about his past. After exchanging a few words with a sharp-eyed old man (Eli Wallach) and a tight-lipped professor (Tom Wilkinson), he realizes his life may also be at risk. Then, while Lang hits the road to proclaim his innocence, the ghost gets to know Ruth better--muchbetter. If the conclusion feels a little glib, Polanksi tightens the screws with skill, McGregor enjoys his best role ...
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Director: Roman Polanski
Genre: Action, Adventure, Drama, Thriller
Release Date: February 19, 2010
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Screen Writer: Robert Harris
DVD Release Date: August 3, 2010
Runtime: 128 minutes
Studio: Summit Entertainment
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