The Ghost Writer aka The Ghost (2010)

(In theatres, March 2010) Roman Polanski may be a runaway convicted pedophile, but he sure knows how to direct a movie.  Faithfully adapted by Robert Harris from his own unusually accessible novel, The Ghost Writer starts with an intriguing premise and then accelerates into a full-blown political thriller.  As a ghostwriter asked to help a former British Prime Minister finish his memoirs after the untimely death of his predecessor, Ewan McGregor is sympathetic enough to hold our interest.  Meanwhile, Pierce Brosnan is convincing as the conniving politician.  The fascinating aspects of ghost-writing are strong enough to allow us to settle in the film’s increasingly frantic pacing.  Once our protagonist starts finding clues about his subject’s past, palace intrigue develops and modern accusations come to besiege their quiet beachfront house.  Added interest can be found in The Ghost Writer’s not-so-subtle political allusions to Tony Blair’s administration.  The film’s plot is nearly identical to the book, but it’s really Polanski’s deft touch with suspense that ties up the film in a neat bow.  A number of showy sequences present familiar developments in refreshing fashion, and the deliberate pacing keeps things neither too slow nor too fast.  Some plot kinks are best explained in the book (which is also a bit more aggressive in political themes), but overall The Ghost Writer is a well-made thriller for adults, bringing back memories of classic seventies movie paranoia.  You can say what you want about Polanski, but the result up on the screen is unarguable.

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