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 <email@example.com>
The end title designer forgot to use punctuation when writing the end credits. This resulted in all assistants being listed as, e.g. "ass designer" or "ass painter". See more »
An intellectual man like Paul Emmett with a Cambridge doctorate degree should know better than to use the object form of "who" in a copular sentence - "And he is whom?" See more »
You realize I know nothing about politics.
You voted for him, didn't you?
Adam Lang? Of course I did, everyone voted for him. He wasn't a politician, he was a craze.
See more »
The credits are written as black-on-white with a typewriter font, like the manuscript shown throughout the movie. See more »
A polished, tightly made, but rather routine political intrigue film...not bad, but!
The Ghost Writer (2010)
A very conventional political thriller, well done, smartly paced, but a bit drab or slow at times, too.
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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