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The Ghost Writer (2010)

2:10 | Trailer
A ghost writer, hired to complete the memoirs of a former British Prime Minister, uncovers secrets that put his own life in jeopardy.


Roman Polanski


Robert Harris (screenplay), Roman Polanski (screenplay) | 1 more credit »
4,133 ( 765)
33 wins & 55 nominations. See more awards »





Cast overview, first billed only:
Ewan McGregor ... The Ghost
Jon Bernthal ... Rick Ricardelli
Tim Preece Tim Preece ... Roy
Jim Belushi ... John Maddox (as James Belushi)
Timothy Hutton ... Sidney Kroll
Anna Botting ... SKY TV Newsreader
Yvonne Tomlinson Yvonne Tomlinson ... Stewardess
Milton Welsh ... Taxi Driver
Alister Mazzotti Alister Mazzotti ... Protection Officer #1
Tim Faraday ... Barry
Kim Cattrall ... Amelia Bly
Kate Copeland Kate Copeland ... Alice
Soogi Kang Soogi Kang ... Dep
Lee Hong Thay Lee Hong Thay ... Duc
Olivia Williams ... Ruth Lang


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 is campaigning for his foundation with his wife in 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:

View content advisory »

Did You Know?


On the fence outside of Professor Paul Emmett's house, a sign reads "Cyclops Security". The Ghost is able to take a peek at Emmett's letter, because there is only one security camera. This is a reference to the cyclops of Greek mythology. See more »


The blue BMW 5 Series (most likely a 525d) driven by Paul Emmitt's wife is a diesel. At the time BMW did not sell any diesel powered 5 Series cars in the United States. 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

There are no opening credits. The title and cast list do not appear until after the last scene of the movie. See more »

Alternate Versions

US version was cut for language to secure a PG-13 rating (the usage of the words "fuck" and "shit" was severely toned down). See more »


References Pulp Fiction (1994) See more »


Marcia Funebre
Allegro Assai from Beethoven's Symphony No. 3
Written by Ludwig van Beethoven
Performed by Symphony Nova Scotia
Conducted by Georg Tintner
Courtesy of Naxos of America, Inc.
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User Reviews

A polished, tightly made, but rather routine political intrigue film...not bad, but!
28 June 2011 | by secondtakeSee all my reviews

The Ghost Writer (2010)

A very conventional political thriller, well done, smartly paced, but a bit drab or slow at times, too.

And familiar.

So you go into this kind of movie looking for what distinguishes it, like the understated performance by Ewan McGregor. And the really gorgeous setting, which looks so much like either Martha's Vineyard or Nantucket you'd swear it was. But in fact the utterly incredible house was built for the movie on a sandy island in northern Germany called Sylt. Most of the movie, in fact, was shot in Germany, including Berlin (which was meant to be London), for the simple reason that the director, admitted sex offender Roman Polanski, couldn't travel to the U.S. without being arrested. There are a few driving scenes and scenic inserts that were filmed on Cape Cod (in the U.S.) without Polanski's presence.

It's interesting that Polanski wanted to make a film that had to be set here even though it made things difficult. Doubly so because his protagonists are all British, making weakly disguised references to Tony Blair (Pierce Brosnan doing a routine job--he really can't act worth beans if an actual emotion is required) and his wife (Olivia Williams, who is absolutely terrific, award material).

Which brings us back to McGregor, playing a ghost writer for the ex-prime minister's memoirs. He's really terrific at playing someone with savvy but also naiveté. He's smart but at first so trusting he gets into what is obviously a dubious job, his predecessor having just been killed. But we are lulled, too, until events internationally unravel the situation and he discovers some inside information. Of course, this puts him in more danger, and us in more suspense.

It's good, very good, but we have been here before. The details are different, but the intrigue is the same. Yes, we know about this shadow government where people are manipulated and assassinated while the news coverage is rose and contrived. Yes, we have seen the detemined innocent set out to prove the truth. Even the direct facts, that this young writer is going to rewrite his predecessor's apparently finished memoir, and then begins with the most basic interviews of the subject, don't shape up.

You'd never know this was directed by Polanski. Or would you? If you look at his earliest films you'll find some edgy, almost cruel quality ("Repulsion") but if you see "Chinatown" you'll actually have a parallel to this one--a well made film in a conventional container (that one has an amazing Jack Nicholson to lift it up). There is of course "Rosemary's Baby," which was lifted by a really creepy story. For "The Ghost Writer," Polanski's last film, you keep thinking there will be a real twist, something large and bizarre or just chilling, but it doesn't really happen. In fact, when the memoir gets published it's all a bit anti-climactic.

And so, the final ten minutes, at a party, feels like a desperate attempt of the writer, and director, to make all this effort more than just another polished intrigue. At the last minute, a highly improbable final discovery occurs, followed by an even more improbable and shocking last ten seconds. Surprised, we sort of say, okay, I get it, and that's that. Not exactly the reaction you'd want to have after a decent two hours preparing.

I say no more except that the final seconds are also an homage to Stanley Kubrick's "The Killing." You'll see. Nice touch.

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Frequently Asked Questions

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France | Germany | UK



Release Date:

19 March 2010 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Ghost Writer See more »

Filming Locations:

Berlin, Germany See more »


Box Office


$45,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$183,009, 21 February 2010

Gross USA:


Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

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Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

DTS | Dolby Digital | SDDS



Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »

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