The Ghost Writer

Roman Polanski, France, 2010, 128 min.

Ewan McGregor stars as a ghost writer hired to help write the memoirs of a former British Prime Minister (Pierce Brosnan) after the first ghost writer died of mysterious circumstances.

Shuffled off to Martha’s Vineyard in secrecy and high security, he becomes a fish out of water in the Minister’s household. The manuscript that he was hired to edit is horrible, and the recently discovered news of some less-than-legal dealings in the Minister’s past combine to make this job rather a rather difficult one.

It gets even more difficult when it becomes apparent that the recent news about the Minister’s past may just be the tip of the iceberg. There is more going on than he is led to believe.

This film is refreshing. It is refreshing to sit back and be taken on a ride by a filmmaker who knows what he is doing. The film builds nicely, revealing information and developing the characters along the way.

The estate and its assorted denizens provide much intrique, humor and drama, all without resorting to cheap tricks. Hitchcock would have loved this film. The acting by McGregor and Bronson is strong, and the cast is rounded out by some great performances by Kim Cattrall and Olivia Williams.

I have a minor quibble with the ending, but the film is great for almost its entire length. The story is realistic, but even more important, the character’s and their actions feel real as well. So if the ending is imperfect, that can be forgiven. In real-life, nobody is perfect.

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