A ghost writer is hired to complete the memoirs of a former British Prime Minister, only to uncover dangerous secrets that threaten his own life.
The Ghost Writer (2010)
Directed by Roman Polanski
Written by Robert Harris and Roman Polanski
Starring Ewan McGregor, Pierce Brosnan, Kim Cattrall,
Olivia Williams, Jon Bernthal, Robert Pugh, Tom Wilkinson
Based on the novel by Robert Harris
The Ghost Writer is easily one of Polanski's most engaging and intriguing films, thanks mostly to the impeccable performances of Ewan McGregor, Pierce Brosnan, and Olivia Williams. The idea of a ghost writer, a person who transcribes the ramblings and ideals of another and never gets credit for it, is an interesting concept that rarely, if ever, has a light shone on it in cinema. This film shows the vulnerability behind such a job by brilliantly giving Ewan McGregor's ghost writer protagonist no name, apart from The Ghost. As he's hired to finish the half-written memoirs of controversial former British Prime Minister Adam Lang (Brosnan), Ghost finds himself embroiled in a buried secret that threatens his life.
I'd feared this film would suffer the same fate as some of Polanski's other paranoia-driven films like The Tenant or The Ninth Gate. I anticipated a fantastic build-up and no payoff, but The Ghost Writer delivers at every opportunity. The story is layered but not overly complicated, and the characters are all morally gray, and you never quite know whose side to choose. Is Lang the product of a smear campaign? Is there really a CIA operation going on here? Up until the last few minutes of the film, you never quite know, but the final reveal is so worth the anticipation.
I thoroughly enjoyed The Ghost Writer and I would count it among Polanski's best work. It's anchored by a host of strong performances and a brilliant film noir-esque screenplay that echoes Chinatown in its suspenseful narrative.