The Ghost Writer (Roman Polanski, 2010) August 13, 2010Posted by Richard Bolisay in British, European Films, Literature.
Directed by Roman Polanski
Cast: Ewan McGregor, Pierce Brosnan, Olivia Williams
Based on the book by Robert Harris
The rapist has a new movie. It’s called The Ghost Writer. It stars Ewan McGregor as the title role, amusingly called “the ghost” from start to finish. The ghost is recommended by his agent to finish a memoir of a former Prime Minister, whose writer died mysteriously in an accident. Pierce Brosnan plays Tony Blair—ooops, Adam Lang—a former British leader who is accused of capturing suspected terrorists and handing them over to the CIA to be tortured. A grave offense, of course, considering he is British and he was a Prime Minister. The ghost arrives just when the media are hounding Lang. CNN and BBC reporters are a few meters away from his residence, sometimes in helicopters. Lang’s position is a little unfavorable. Protests calling him a liar and a murderer are shown on news reports, as well as former allies turning their backs on him. Meanwhile, the ghost thinks that the draft of the memoir is stiff and boring, so he rewrites it using his own interviews. He asks Lang more interesting questions (like what made him decide to enter politics), stays in his house (and later on, thought better of it), snogs his wife in the ghost’s own bed (not his initiative), and uncovers a series of conspiracies (private planes and ro-ro ships included). But what takes the mystery into a whole new different thrill is the rapist’s and co- writer Robert Harris’ humor. Imagine, the man who directed Knife in the Water, Repulsion, and Rosemary’s Baby several decades ago, all acclaimed and genre-bending, is doing some exercise on political satire. Damn! The Ghost Writer looks like a dud compared to the rapist’s other films, only it isn’t. There is that nagging intention to dumb down the writing, considering it’s based on a popular book, but the rapist gets away with it because there are so many strings attached. The rapist is making a funny movie, and he doesn’t care. Kim Cattrall is awful, but even she is perfect in the film. If her character hadn’t been so terrible, the goddamn turn of events in the end wouldn’t have been so outrageous. Ewan McGregor, as always, is confident to show off his ass, and by ass it means his charming face. He downplays the role and freshens it up. It is weird because his “ghost” is not a strong character in the film yet it leaves a mark, a dent right in the nose. Given, yes, he looks for clues regarding the murder and finds answers to his questions, but hell, he can always call it a day. Nothing much is at stake. Leave the town. Find another job. Don’t meddle with Tony Blair’s problems. But for two hours of relentless wit, foul language, and B-movie absurdity, the shit holds up. The rapist takes the bull by the horns, rides for a fall, and leaves the scene unscathed. Directing a film like this under house arrest, he doesn’t seem troubled at all, does he? Scoff at brilliance, you bloody shark. It’s obvious you did this in your sleep.