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The Ghost Writer (2010)

PG-13  |   |  Crime, Drama, Mystery  |  19 March 2010 (USA)
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Ratings: 7.2/10 from 126,285 users   Metascore: 77/100
Reviews: 344 user | 340 critic | 35 from

A ghostwriter hired to complete the memoirs of a former British prime minister uncovers secrets that put his own life in jeopardy.



(screenplay), (screenplay), 1 more credit »
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An unremarkable ghost-writer has landed a lucrative contract to redact the memoirs of Adam Lang, the former UK Prime Minister. After dominating British politics for years, Lang has retired with his wife to the USA. He lives on an island, in luxurious, isolated premises complete with a security detail and a secretarial staff. Soon, Adam Lang gets embroiled in a major scandal with international ramifications that reveals how far he was ready to go in order to nurture UK's "special relationship" with the USA. But before this controversy has started, before even he has closed the deal with the publisher, the ghost-writer gets unmistakable signs that the turgid draft he is tasked to put into shape inexplicably constitutes highly sensitive material. Written by Eduardo Casais <>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


Read between the lies.

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG-13 for language, brief nudity/sexuality, some violence and a drug reference | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:




| |


Release Date:

19 March 2010 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

The Ghost Writer  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office


$45,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

$183,009 (USA) (19 February 2010)


$15,523,168 (USA) (11 June 2010)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Largely because Roman Polanski could not set foot in the United States, filming took place in Germany made to look like Massachusetts. See more »


When the ghost writer and his agent (Rick) meet in the first scene, in a bar/restaurant, the agent has the glass almost empty of water, but in the next image (filming angle changed) his glass is 3/4 full with water. See more »


[first lines]
The Ghost: You realize I know nothing about politics.
Rick Ricardelli: You voted for him, didn't you?
The Ghost: Adam Lang? Of course I did, everyone voted for him. He wasn't a politician, he was a craze.
See more »

Crazy Credits

The title appears as highlighted words on pages of the scattered manuscript. See more »


Referenced in Have I Got News for You: Episode #39.2 (2010) See more »


Performed by David Majzlin
Courtesy of Toy Hanner Music (ASCAP)
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

Controlled enigma
24 February 2010 | by See all my reviews

Roman Polanski's 'The Ghost Writer' bears the most in common with his recent 'The Ninth Gate'. The comparison starts this review as many others will inevitably find some comparison to be made with the director's work, especially since his personality looms so large.

The plot has been described countless times and will be spared here. What instead fascinates is the depiction of Ewan McGregor as the nameless protagonist. He has no family, no real attachments so to speak, and no real drive. Like Johnny Depp's "book detective" in 'The Ninth Gate' his reason for existence seems to be to serve those higher in society. McGregor plays the party well, never completely convincing in one state or the other. Even when under duress his physical movements speak much more about his mental state than his mannerisms. This could be interpreted as Polanski's examination of apathy within larger society. What I mean by that is to say that it is through the Ghost's lack of interest that one can observe the world.

Shot by Pawel Edelman, who has collaborated with Polanski in the past as well as with other heavyweight Polish filmmaker Andrzej Wajda, the images of 'The Ghost Writer' suggest a cool bleakness. Accompanied by a poetic score by the always reliable Alexandre Desplat the film suggests a constant looming menace, embodied by the rain of the New England island. The camera often remains static, sometimes zeroing in for reactions, but always showing a complete action through a singular movement or lack of movement. Often times the characters seem resigned to their fates. The roles each person plays in the story are very clearly defined. Former-PM Adam Lang (Pierce Brosnan), surrounded by his lackeys, anti-war protesters, etc. all seem just pieces of grander scale. Polanski's world view is so thoroughly and crisply represented through this visual style it is as if the individual events are not as important as the atmosphere in general.

This is precisely why the film works, because of a director so in command of his craft. The film runs over 2 hours but every decision feels completely blocked and planned out. Every image carefully composed, every moment of information tightly plotted. 'The Ghost Writer' works terrifically by raising your blood level in this manner. Some will inevitably complain it makes the film seem merely serviceable when such expected plot twists occur. Yet I can think of few filmmakers so readily able to create such a vivid world and sustain it greatly. There are some pacing issues and the music can be overbearing. These are not unlike the problems facing Martin Scorsese's 'Shutter Island'. The talent of all involved makes the film exceed a workmanlike thriller even though the atmosphere on set was so mathematical.

A very enjoyable, meticulous film that demands and rewards patience. Worth seeing.

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