The Ghost Writer

Movie poster for The Ghost Writer
Ewan Macgregor looks a wee bit like Ben Stiller here, don't you think?

It might be considered a bad thing that I mistook the start of the movie for BMW ad, but a lack of the usual plethora of studio logos and the egregious product placement aside, The Ghost Writer turned out to be reasonably compelling viewing.

Ewan McGregor plays the eponymous ghost writer (who’s never named throughout the movie) who is hired by a publishing firm to tackle the unfinished manuscript of the memoir of Adam Lang (Pierce Brosnan), former British Prime Minister. The previous ghost writer died on the job, and “The Ghost” – as he’s often referred to throughout the movie – finds himself caught up in circumstances that puts his safety at risk.

This isn’t usually one of my genres so I had to do a bit of reading to convince myself that it was worth watching (it was Jenny’s idea to go see it, based on David and Margaret both giving it 4.5 stars). It’s old school, which is actually refreshing in a retro-cool kind of way. The linear plot starts at a pedestrian pace, and continues ratcheting up the intrigue and suspense right until the climax delivers the “ah hah!” moment. The script does tend to plod along a bit, and I wouldn’t go so far as to label it a thriller ‘coz it wasn’t ever particularly thrilling. I’d liken it more to a slow-burning whodunnit (and being of that frame of mind quite early, I ended up accidentally guessing the ending – yay me).

Being completely ignorant of the controversy surrounding the director, Roman Polanski, I came out of The Ghost Writer thinking that it was yet another Hollywood movie that suffered from that great bugbear of mine: the American superiority complex. But for those of you who like me didn’t know (or didn’t care to know), Polanski is currently a wanted man in the USA on charges relating to sexual abuse of a minor back in 1977. He has been “on the run” so to speak (avoiding countries that are friendly with the Americans) since 1978. Given that context, maybe it’s not so much of a superiority complex as Polanski’s criticism of the insidious power of the United States in regard to global political affairs. Heavy stuff.

Onto rather more superficial matters, Olivia Williams and Kim Cattrall play the Prime Minister’s wife and mistress respectively, and while in the movie you get a full side-on of a gloriously naked McGregor, there is only the merest hint of flesh from one of the leading ladies – you can guess what demographic this movie is aiming for. Not that I was expecting anything… ahem.

But yeah, keep your wits about you, and remember: when you see the BMW ad, the movie has started.

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