Had I realized the next film I’m about to review was directed and co-written by Roman Polanski, chances are good that I would not have rented it in the first place. I am not a supporter of the individual who fled the law on charges of molestation.
Nonetheless, once I had rented the film and watched it (without reviewing the opening credits), it was too late to undo what I had done. Therefore, I intend to be honest in my review despite my personal dislike for Polanski.
The film is “The Ghost Writer.” It stars Pierce Brosnan and Ewan McGregor. It also prominently features Timothy Hutton, James Belushi, Kim Cattrall, and Olivia Williams.
McGregor plays an author who has been brought on board to rewrite the memoirs of former British Prime Minister, Adam Lang (Brosnan). This is necessary when the original ghostwriter commits suicide. At first he doesn’t want the role but his agent, played by Hutton, convinces him it would be good for his career.
It seems like a cut and dry job. Take the ramblings of a non-writer and turn them into something meaningful. For his efforts, the ghostwriter (McGregor) is set to make a lot of money.
There is; however, one catch. He must do the writing at the Prime Minister’s house, which is located on an island. The original manuscript is kept there under lock and key by the politician’s secretary and assumed mistress, Amelia Bly (Cattrall).
No sooner does the ghost get started on the writing job than Lang becomes embroiled in a major controversy over human rights issues. While, at first, it seems the accusations made against are blatantly false, the ghostwriter eventually finds evidence that seems to paint Lang in a different light.
As he begins to follow the trail of evidence, the ghostwriter puts his own life in danger; much in the same way the former ghost did. It quickly becomes evident that his predecessor didn’t commit suicide at all but was killed for knowing too much.
The movie takes many twists and turns, leaving the audience wondering if they actually know what is happening. Chances are good they do not. It took me till the end of the film to finally make the correct connections.
“The Ghost Writer” is a good film. It is full of everything that makes a movie good. It has well fleshed out characters in which the audience becomes invested. It has a good story, penned by Robert Harris after his own book, and perfected by Polanski.
The movie keeps you in suspense from the beginning to the end and then it surprises you in more ways than one. You won’t see what is coming and that makes for a fun ride.
Despite my feelings about Polanski as a person, he is a good filmmaker. “The Ghost Writer” is one of his best films to date.
I’m not a huge fan of McGregor but he was very good in this role. If he’s not careful, he might yet convert me.
Brosnan is also quite good in a departure from his normal heroic film turns. He makes it difficult to believe his character could be evil and perhaps for good reason.
Cattrall, in the role of a rather dowdy and colorless secretary, is astounding. Who knew she could actually act?
Williams as the supposedly wronged wife that Lang adores is also excellent. She hides her secrets very well.
Hutton and Belushi also turn in strong performances in small, but pivotal, parts. I was impressed.
“Ghost Writer” is a mass of surprises from start to finish. Therefore, I give it 3.5 out of 5 stars.
RATING SCALE USED:
0 = A stinker. Don’t waste the money!
1 = Bad. Rent it at your own risk.
2 = Below average. See only if you have time to kill.
2.5 = Average. A toss up.
3 = Good. Worth a looksee.
3.5 = Very Good. I recommend it.
4 = Excellent. Don’t miss it!
4.5 = Outstanding. What are you waiting for?
5 = Destined to become a classic. You will be sorry if you don’t see it.