Monday, August 30, 2010

The Ghost Writer: Grade A


The Ghost Writer

Ewan McGregor, Pierce Brosnan, Kim Cattrall, Olivia Williams, Tom Wilkinson; Co-writer and Director Roman Polanski.

This is a well-made political thriller, as you would expect from a big name like Polanski, but it is the strong acting and cinematography that carry it. It is not an edge of your seat thriller and the dramatic tension is never very high.

McGregor does an amazing job portraying a ghost writer hired to re-write the memoir of a former British Prime Minister, who has a retreat on an island off Massachusetts. The ghost writer is the second to try, as the first was found dead in mysterious circumstances. McGregor plays the part of “the ghost” extremely well. His character has no family, no political ax to grind, no strong emotions, no strong motivation of any kind. Yet he has enough curiosity to dig in and uncover the truth about the ex-PM that explains why he acted like the U.S. president’s poodle during his tenure at Number 10.

The plot has more tension if you care about such recent politics. As written, it is hard to care about the story on its own merits. As it happens, I do care about politics so I found the story quite enjoyable, though not everyone would.

The acting is so good, though, and the sets and scenery are photographed so well, that my attention never flagged over the two hour film. Besides the lightweight plot, the only other serious flaw was the annoying music, unnecessary and twice as loud as the dialog, usually high pitched, repetitive violins designed to suggest high tension when there really wasn’t any. I would rather have listened to the rain pounding on the ground.

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