The Ghost Writer - ***1/2
Directed by: Roman Polanski
Starring: Ewan McGregor, Pierce Brosnan, Kim Cattrall, Tom Wilkenson
Review: This movie was very well constructed. I had heard good things and I thought it would be a good movie to check out. I was right.
The movie centers around Ewan Macgregor's character who is hired as a new ghost writer for the autobiography of the former prime minster of England Adam Lange. He is the new ghost writer because the previous one was found dead washed up on shore as the result of an apparent suicide.
Coinciding with Macgregors arrival as new ghost writer is the unraveling of a national scandal in which Lange finds himself in trouble with the international criminal court for war crimes. Lange has now become a fugitive from his own country and the only place he can reside safely is in America (which is where he already is to write his book). Naturally, this makes it tough to ghost write as Lange is more concerned with dealing with this crises than getting his book finished. Therefore, Macgregor's ghost now has to do some research himself and finish the book anyway. The book has become a hot commodity because of the scandal so his publisher wants it to come along as quickly as possible.
This leads Macgregors ghost to stumble upon some information during his research. This information is of the national security variety and could spell even more doom for Lange and his constituents. I will stop there as part of the joy of this movie is the story line unraveling.
Roman Polanski directs this and he has not lost his touch. He constructs a phenomenal story here and develops tension, not with car chases and cliffhangers but with words and paranoia. This is something that is lost on the majority of the current generation of directors, but you don't have to have action to create suspense. It can be created on it's own through situation and the suspense was palpable in this film.
Ewan Macgregor plays the part perfectly. He plays the part of the writer who knows he failed in his endeavor to be a "real" writer but as a ghost, where somebody else who's not supposed to be a writer can take all the credit, he can flourish. Macgregor's ghost follows his clues and asks the questions he asks, not because he is in a movie and it pushes the plot along (although it does do that), but because he is genuinely curious and it is part of his job. He doesn't ask questions in order to write the book, he asks them in order to understand the man so he can not only write the book but write it as Lange. This leads to answers to these questions he probably didn't want and part of what makes his performance so good is how well he is able to play the part of someone who is in well over his head, and knows it.
The rest of the supporting cast is brilliant. Pierce Brosnan is pitch perfect as the former Prime Minister and his wife is brilliant as the loyal wife with maybe something she is not quite revealing to everyone outright.
This is just a well made, well constructed movie that is enjoyable and sucks you in from start to finish. It is one of those movies that gets better the more you think about it. Definitely worth your time.