Wednesday, 23 May 2012

The Ghost Writer

The Ghost Writer, Roman Polanski’s film based on the Robert Harris novel The Ghost, is a very enjoyable thriller. Harris is a master of the high concept thriller (I like Enigma best of his earlier books) and this story draws heavily on his interest in the lives and careers of his friends (but are they still friends, after this?) Tony and Cherie Blair.

Ewan McGregor plays a ghost writer who is hired for an enormous fee to do a rush job – sprucing up the memoirs of a recent Prime Minister. He is flown out to meet the great man (played  by the ultra-charismatic Pierce Brosnan), his wife (Olivia Williams) and his sexy aide – and mistress – a role tailor-made for the stunning Kim Cattrall. But his predecessor has died in mysterious circumstances, and soon the plot thickens.

I was surprised that the story moved, for the most part, at a fairly slow pace, but it warms up steadily and develops into a quite gripping story, especially when our hero starts to discover clues to a sinister truth in the manuscript his predecessor was working on at the time of his death.

Tom Wilkinson, appearing late in the movie, plays a key part as a sinister professor with CIA connections, and does his usual impressive job. I was also very taken with Olivia Williams’ subtle portrayal of a wronged but manipulative wife. Overall, a very enjoyable movie which I can recommend.


Ed Gorman said...

I've seen it twice and liked it even more the second time. This is my kind of novel and film. Escapism with a powerful theme. I hope someday made Tony Blair watch it.

Bill Crider said...

I quite enjoyed this one. And the novel, too.

Margot Kinberg said...

Martin - I'd heard this was a good 'un. Glad to know I heard right. Also good to hear you enjoyed it.

Maxine Clarke said...

I thought Olivia Williams was the best thing about this film ...started OK but became a bit slow & dated, eg its plot device about the copies of the book being protected. Don't know about you, but I was one step ahead of Euan McGregor on the "finding things in the man's suitcase" standard crime fiction plot ;-) They changed the ending for the film, also.

Patrick said...

Absolutely love this movie! Polanski is a master of suspense and really lets the film almost create suspense for itself. I particularly loved the shot during the finale where the note is passed around the entire room-- it had such a delightfully Hitchcockian element to it, and the accompanying music was just perfect.

Martin Edwards said...

Many thanks for your comments. A deservedly popular film. I look forward to reading the book.
Ed, nice idea. Tony might just enjoy it even if Cherie doesn't!
Patrick, very good point.