First, the good news: Ewan McGregor, Pierce Brosnan and Olivia Williams deliver solid performances in this political thriller directed by Roman Polanski. The bad news: The Ghost Writer is often hard to follow – geographically as well as dramatically.

McGregor plays The Ghost, an apolitical writer hired to help finish the memoirs of embattled former British Prime Minister Adam Lang (Brosnan) after the guy who wrote the first draft of the manuscript dies under mysterious circumstances. The Ghost reluctantly accepts the assignment (after the publishers convince him it will be easy money) and heads to the U.S. east coast, apparently somewhere on The Cape. That’s where Lang, his wife (Williams), his aide/mistress (Kim Cattrall with a mediocre British accent), their staff and security detail are laying low while accusations swirl in the U.K. about Lang’s relationship with the American government and whether his anti-terrorism tactics rose to the level of international war crimes. (hmm… shades of Bush and Blair perhaps?).

Interestingly, McGregor’s character is never actually named in the movie. He’s simply The Ghost. To the film’s credit, I didn’t even realize that until I started wracking my brain (and google) for the character’s name.

The story shifts into high dramatic gear after The Ghost stumbles across some information left behind by his predecessor – clues to a big secret involving Lang. That secret is hidden somewhere within the well-guarded pages of the original manuscript. As The Ghost seeks to unravel the mystery, he puts himself on the same perilous path that got his predecessor killed.

The Ghost Writer has some interesting elements and strong performances. But it also has some half-developed characters and really confusing plot lines. Fans of political thrillers may be willing to cut the movie some slack considering the dearth of intellectually-stimulating movies in theaters right now. But it’s not a must-see.

The Ghost Writer is based on the 2007 novel The Ghost by Robert Harris.

One thought on “The Ghost Writer”
  1. Rented this over the weekend and I agree with Mainstream Chick. Overall, while Ewan McGregor is good, the story is not clear and the political parallels with Bush/Blair, the use of a Haliburton-sounding defense contractor and mentions of the US Veep helping out, all seem a bit too spot on. And the ending is just way too clean. I’d say skip this one. Maybe on a plane, but don’t bother with a rental.

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