Tuesday, March 23, 2010

The Ghost Writer * * * *

Starring Ewan McGregor, Pierce Brosnan, Olivia Williams, Kim Cattrall

Rated PG-13

Directed by Roman Polanski

Written by Robert Harris (novel and adaption)
and Roman Polanski (screenplay)

* * * *

60th Berlin International Film Festival - The Ghost Writer  Premiere

On an island off of Massachusetts, cloaked with heavy mists and driving rain, a British ghost writer, played by the quietly commanding Ewan McGregor, takes on his most lucrative book deal yet. He is aware the book’s subject, former British prime minister James Lang (Pierce Brosnan), is under investigation from the government. The Ghost Writer (his character is never named) also knows he is filling the shoes of the previous ghost writer, who died suddenly, laying the groundwork for all he is about to uncover.

While working with Lang, The Ghost Writer meets his personal assistant/mistress (Kim Cattrall) and his miserable, dark, political genius of a wife, Ruth Lang (Olivia Williams), who all live and work together in a bleak, solitary house by the beach. Beneath the surface of the uncomfortable household, with security officers at every corner, always watching, a storm is brewing. The Ghost tries to keep a professional distance from Lang and his crew, but he realizes there is something bigger at work behind the politician’s facade.

When Lang is accused outright of committing war crimes by the British government, The Ghost starts to delve deeper into his past, his political connections and whether the previous ghost writer’s death was really a suicide.

Brosnan is sleek and slimy as the former prime minister and Williams is brilliant as Mrs. Lang, a woman who appears deeply unhappy, trapped in a life she did not plan for. Cattrall is one of the few non-British leading actors and while she struggles, sounding a bit like Samantha Jones with a fake English accent, she certainly looks the part of Lang’s sexy, composed assistant.

With an Alfred Hitchcock-like theme and slow purposeful scenes, Roman Polanski’s “The Ghost Writer” is a deeply refreshing take on the mystery/thriller. Blissfully free of huge explosions, bad one-liners and a rushed plotline, the film will thrill fans of the old-Hollywood style mystery.

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