Sunday, September 12, 2010

Review: The Ghost Writer

I guess the time had to come, and quickly, when I lost all credibility in the eyes of readers.  I am here to admit that I have never seen a Roman Polanski movie before today.  I've been to the place of his birth (Paris) and upbringing (Krakow), but I never saw Rosemary's Baby, The Ninth Gate, Chinatown, The Pianist or any other film written, acted, or directed by Polanski.

So, I started watching the movie on a blank slate, knowing only vaguely about the film.  But throughout the opening, something struck me.  It was the music, of all things.  Pacing beautifully along with the picture, the imagery and soundtrack are expertly and lovingly combined.

Based off the Robert Harris book, The Ghost Writer follows an unnamed writer assigned to writing down a former-Prime Minister's memoirs after the previous writer is found dead from a suicide.  The whole cast is largely typecast, and no one stars in a role they haven't before, even if they are a little tweaked.  Ewan McGregor plays a writer who seems not to care much about anything at all, seemingly hating having someone take all the credit for his hard work.  Pierce Brosnan is right at home as playing the PM with something to hide, Adam Lang, a Tony Blair allegory.  Brosnan is never beyond his comfort zone as a polished, urbane man of mystery, but he seems to be hiding something darker and more sinister.  Kim Cattrall is Brosnan's buxy assistant, and there are whispering hints of an affair; while, Olivia Williams is Brosnan's dark, brooding wife.  William's character is introduced as a bit vulnerable, but she too seems to be hiding some hidden monster.

Most of the film takes place on the perpetually-gray, constantly windblown coast of Martha's Vineyard.  McGregor starts out trying to edit and finish the book in a month (later cut down to two weeks) while trying to figure out what's going on.  He's not getting much help, as Brosnan's character is accused of war crimes.  His accused actions: allowing the CIA to capture and torture (killing one) British citizens in Pakistan, even though they were suspected terrorists.  As the media bears down on Brosnan's peaceful hideaway, McGregor finds himself pulled deeper into the mess and trying to figure out what happened to his predecessor, and whether he got more than he bargained for when he signed up for $200,000.

The whole film is expertly made, and I as I said before: the soundtrack is one of the best I've heard in a long time.  Polanski is clearly a master film maker, and The Ghost Writer is definitely something that shores up his credibility.

Score: B+

1 comment:

Marcus said...

Haven't seen it yet, but maybe I will now. Thanks for the review!