A thriller from filmmaking master Roman Polanski, based on the novel by Robert Harris (Enigma). A ghost writer (Ewan McGregor) agrees to complete the memoirs of a former British Prime Minister (Pierce Brosnan). Opens on November 11. Click here for session info.
The whiff of Polanski scandal was fresh in the air when this played at the New Zealand International Film Festival, and while that’s dissipated for the time being, The Ghost Writer goes into general release amidst still-unanswered questions about Britain’s actions in Iraq and Afghanistan. These still threaten Tony Blair and form a more fitting current affairs backdrop to a superior conspiracy thriller that prurient interest somewhat overshadowed.
That Pierce Brosnan delivers an excellent thinly-veiled portrayal of the former PM hardly hurts. It’s a role that gives him the opportunity to turn in a less than flattering portrait of an egotistical man, preoccupied with public opinion and mourning the loss of his rockstar-like status.
While Brosnan’s performance is perhaps the best thing about the film, he doesn’t get the majority of screen time, this falling to Ewan McGregor’s portrayal of the unequipped everyman getting in over his head – an archetypal character in conspiracy flicks and one that he’s more than competent enough to tackle.
The Ghost Writer may hardly rank amongst Polanski’s finest work but still hits all the right notes; it's an often-tense affair that comes with just the right amount of cynicism, a great cast, and one that treats the audience with a modicum of intelligence.