THE GHOST WRITER
MOVIE: **** (out of 5)
BLU-RAY EXPERIENCE: **1/2 (out of 5)
BY KEVIN CARR
WHAT IT’S ABOUT
When a successful ghost writer (Ewan McGregor) is asked to help finish the memoirs of the former British Prime Minister Adam Lang (Pierce Brosnan), he takes the job expecting a quick punch-up of a boring manuscript. However, soon he learns there’s a dangerous past to the memoirs, linking to the death of the previous ghost writer and some ties to national security.
WHAT I LIKED
I’m not a big fan of Roman Polanski, so in this case, how much I liked this movie is a testament to its construction. The story fits squarely on the shoulders of its actors, mostly on Ewan McGregor, who does a brilliant job as the title character. Additionally, though Pierce Brosnan isn’t in the film for that long, he gives a nice performance as the sometimes smarmy and sometimes aloof politician. There’s also decent performances by Kim Cattrall as Lang’s assistant and Olivia Williams as his wife.
“The Ghost Writer” is not for everyone as it tends to be made from a different era. It’s not an action piece, and it’s not a thriller by today’s design. Rather, it’s a slow build that hints at something big from the beginning but unravels nicely throughout.
The patient and chilly cinematography and the haunting score are the glue that holds this film together. While many will point to “Chinatown” as Polanski’s masterpiece, I found this was to be as intriguing and interesting to watch.
WHAT I DIDN’T LIKE
The only real problems I had with this film was its overly allegorical nature. Not much effort is made to mask Lang as a version of Tony Blair, and the same old song of war crimes lofted against a governmental leader became tedious in 2004. Additionally, there are some rather uncomfortable moments in which the characters discuss the nuances of where Lang can live in order to escape the authorities, which cuts a little too close to the bone if you know of Polanski’s own history with the long arm of the law.
The Blu-ray looks fantastic, which is a feat for a film that is not known for being a benchmark Blu-ray movie. It is also presented as a Blu-ray/DVD flip-disc for those who have not made the conversion yet.
Additional special features include a look at the original novel called “The Ghost Writer: Fiction or Reality,” a look at the cast of the film and an interview with Roman Polanski.
WHO’S GOING TO LIKE THIS MOVIE
People who like Polanski’s movies and a none-too-subtle homage to Hitchcock’s style.