Thursday, 22 April 2010

The Ghost Writer

Roman Polanski's long-awaited and much heralded film about an obscure ghost writer (Ewan McGregor) who is hired to bring order from the chaos that are the memoirs of former British Prime Minister - Adam Lang (Pierce Brosnan). Based on the Robert Harris novel and acknowledged to be inspired, more or less by Tony Blair, this film is a political thriller that moves at a steady pace. There are some neat twists and turns along the way and the heavy-weight cast give solid but unspectacular performances. Ewan McGregor at last presents a largely believable accent. This film is okay - even possibly good, but at the end of it I was somewhat disappointed.

The publisher has paid $10m for the memoirs and they are in a mess. The previous ghost writer, a close friend and associate of Lang for more than 20 years is washed up dead on a beach with half a bottle of whisky in his blood, his car still on the ferry that connects the island to the mainland. The publisher imposes a 4 week deadline for the 'ghost' to do his work - a tall order. Lang is undertaking a speaking tour of the USA and is holed up in a reclusive luxury heavily guarded island beach side villa with his up-tight wife and admin team. The 'ghost' begins his interviews but there are many interruptions and some areas are out of bounds. But as the emerging story unfolds, there are many loose ends and things begin to not add up. The windswept and desolate isolation of Lang and his party in the villa is a powerful metaphor for Lang's isolation and segregation from the world.

Things hot up when a former colleague feeds information to the International War Crimes Court implicating Lang in using evidence gained under duress by the CIA. Lang is then forced to stay in the USA as they do not recognise the jurisdiction of the court. This part of the plot is highly ironic given Polanski's current house arrest in Switzerland pending extradition to the USA!

A protest camp materialises at the gates to the beach villa and angry crowds confront anyone going in or out. Meanwhile the 'ghost' does some of his own digging around and the locals give him further evidence that his predecessor's death was suspicious. As he drives the guest car, the Satnav is determined to take him somewhere and eventually the 'ghost' twigs that this would have been his predecessors last journey. he follows the route which takes him back to the mainland and the plot thickens. Towards the end it also quickens and there are some unexpected twists.

I won't say too much more about the story in case you want to go and see it - which is worth doing. (IMDB currently scoring it 7.9/10 and Rotten Tomatoes 84%.) Some reviews have hinted at a Hitchcock-like quality to the film. I think this more cock and bull than Hitchcock - particularly given the review of the film I saw back-to-back with this above!

I'll give it 6/10.

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