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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 126,592 users   Metascore: 77/100
Reviews: 344 user | 340 critic | 35 from Metacritic.com

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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Cast overview, first billed only:
Tim Preece ...
Anna Botting ...
Yvonne Tomlinson ...
Taxi Driver
Kate Copeland ...
Soogi Kang ...
Lee Hong Thay ...


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 <casaise@acm.org>

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?


The NHL hockey game that The Ghost watches (or pretends to watch) on the TV in the hotel bar is between the Vancouver Canucks and St. Louis Blues on January 23, 2008. The voice of announcer Jim Hughson can clearly be heard on the CBC broadcast, naming such Canuck players as Markus Näslund, Mattias Öhlund, Henrik Sedin and Daniel Sedin. See more »


On the private jet, McAra presents Adam Lang with a group photograph that shows Paul Emmett and Adam Lang together. The dialog runs: "When McAra found this (the photograph) he went to Boston to show it to Emmett and he died on the way home and I think he was murdered. If McAra drowned before he could get back to the island, how did the photograph get into the envelope taped to the bottom of a drawer in McAra's bedroom closet? 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 credits are written as black-on-white with a typewriter font, like the manuscript shown throughout the movie. See more »


Featured in Late Show with David Letterman: Episode #17.93 (2010) See more »


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

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

Has Polanski made the perfect movie?
26 February 2010 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

The key word here is suspense, the perfect blend of a director at the peak of his powers, a script that beautifully works with a source without diluting its essence or compromising its subject matter, and with a timing so perfect that no false note is hit, enrapturing its audience, never letting go, pushing its limits as the audience awaits its incredible resolution.

McGregor plays a hired writer who comes in to assist Lang (Brossnan) in the publication of his memoirs. Timing couldn't get worse as an unexpected complication ensues and many people's lives and reputations are suddenly in danger. As the film reaches its conclusion, with tensions and levels of paranoia reaching unheard limits, it's got our attention, and it has earned every bit of it.

The quality of the writing is impressive, with no false moves, no red herrings, no unnecessary distractions, no manipulations to sway you one way or another. What we have is a mix of intrigue, action, Shakespearean drama, and performers who might never be this good again. Polanski channels Hitchcock at his best, using Desplat's driving score (himself channeling Herrman), and just when it all could have been a tribute, it soars above its inspiration.

Among so many impressive elements, one has to mention the note perfect and outstanding Olivia Williams, an actress that has moved on from being physically alluring to developing acting talents which could rank her with Streep and Close because of her impeccable and powerful turn. Here is a woman who hardly resorts to gimmicks, but takes the most normal of situations and weaves a wave of intrigue that would leave you breathless.

"The Ghost Writer" is a mystery, a thriller, a tribute to the masters who inspired the genre and might even surpass all those sources of inspiration. The film mixes politics with an old fashion thrills and makes us wonder why Hollywood hasn't made movies like this more often. It's early in the year, but it's going to be hard to find anything that can even come close to this movie, a film that is as perfect as anything any director has ever put together, Hitchcock included.

230 of 369 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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