Saturday, 24 April 2010

Film Review: THE GHOST (2010) [a.k.a. THE GHOST WRITER]

Director: Roman Polanski
Running time: 128 mins (approx)
Certification (UK): 15

UK Release date: 16th April 2010

Watched at the cinema Saturday 24th April 2010.


Based on a novel by Robert Harris, this film is a good old fashioned mystery thriller. An ex Prime Minister of the UK, Adam Lang is writing his memoirs with the assistance of his former aide. When the aide is found dead on a beach and his car left abandoned on a ferry, it is assumed he committed suicide. A new ghost writer is brought in to rescue the project which is due for publication very soon.

The Ghost arrives at Adam Lang’s luxurious private residence on an island off the coast of Massachusetts. He is greeted by Adam’s chief of staff, Amelia Bly and the small team of security and administration personnel that live and work there. Later he meets Adam’s wife, Ruth, who appears less than happy with the situation. The Ghost is shown to a room and given a draft of the manuscript to read, that is kept under tight security, he finds it turgid and not very enthralling. When Adam arrives back from a business trip he begins to try and find out a little bit more about the man in order to make the book more interesting. Things seem to be going well until the news breaks that Adam Lang is to be tried for war crimes. Because of the delicate nature of his work, The Ghost (we never know his name) is moved into the residence. He is put into the room that had been occupied by his predecessor. While clearing out a cupboard he discovers some information about Lang’s early days at Cambridge University, where he met his wife. It seems he had been friends with a former CIA operative called Paul Emmett. The ghost decides to go and see where his predecessor’s body washed up and is told by a local that the tides wouldn’t have washed a body up on that shore. Now suspicious, he goes to see Emmett who isn’t exactly cooperative. On leaving he is followed but manages to give his pursuers the slip, leaving them stranded on a ferry. He had managed to take the original draft of the manuscript with him and it is this that holds the key and this that got his predecessor killed.

It’s a very well made film with quite a low pace; at times it did feel like you were watching an adaptation of a play. Some very good acting from all of the main cast, honourable mentions go to Ewan McGregor as The Ghost, Kim Cattrall as Amelia Bly, Pierce Brosnan as Adam Lang, Olivia Williams as Ruth Lang and Tom Wilkinson as Paul Emmett. Also nice to see, James Belushi as John Maddox and Eli Wallach as Vineyard old man.

I have read that the Adam Lang character is loosely based on the real former Prime Minister Tony Blaire. I don’t know how much truth there is in that, but I could definitely see parallels. As I said at the beginning, this is a good old fashioned mystery thriller and it works pretty well as that. I guess if you haven’t seen films of this ilk made in the 1950’s and 60’s you may not appreciate its style. I, for one, quite enjoyed it, particularly the ending, which came as a bit of a surprise. Not recommended for all, but for those that remember those old fashioned black & white mystery thrillers its most definitely recommended.

My score: 7.4/10

IMDb Site:
Official Site:

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