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This One Is Really Good
on March 10, 2010
"The Ghost Writer" is a Roman Polanski political thriller of the first order. It is very cleverly plotted with gripping suspense and narrative drive that pulls you into the story. Some movies of late have seemed endless; in this one I was completely unaware of time passing and was completely enthralled by this story of the deepest intrigue. It's full of conspiracies, and the whole thing is done in a very classy, sophisticated manner that will remind you of Hitchcock at his very best. It's engrossing and involving.
The acting is top-notch with Ewan McGregor very effective as the ghost writer who has been brought in to liven up the memoirs of a former prime minister (played extremely well by Pierce Brosnan). He is a Tony Blair figure who has been fingered for war crimes by one of his former cabinet ministers. He has ordered the arrest and rendering out of Britain of suspects so that they could be tortured for information.
The movie begins in gloomy, leaden weather on the ferry to Martha's Vineyard. A car is discovered without a driver. The man's body turns up later on the island, the victim of accident, suicide, or as we rightly assume, murder. Foul play indeed! He is the previous ghost writer who has now been replaced by McGregor. And of course he found out too much while doing his research. McGregor, of course, knows he could be a target as well.
Polanski has deliberately made very mundane matters seem full of import and menace. It's full of clues and mysterious doings in the austere modernistic house so alien to the Vineyard. The cinematography and atmospherics are terrific. A lot of sinister-seeming goings-on.
They don't make them this good anymore, and I think viewers will be pleasantly surprised. The intellectually curious and politically savvy will be impressed, I think. Pierce Brosnan by the force of his personality makes Tony Blair seem like a naïve schoolboy by comparison.