Being a huge fan of author Robert Harris’ novels FATHERLAND, POMPEII, and IMPERIUM, I was looking forward to the film adaptation of THE GHOST as renamed THE GHOST WRITER and directed by Roman Polanski and written by Polanski and Harris. I’ve yet to read THE GHOST so my expectations were not as high as they would have been had I read the book. THE GHOST WRITER might be the best mediocre film that Polanski has ever done.
I’m a huge fan and Polanski and count ROSEMARY’S BABY, CHINATOWN, THE TENENT, and THE NINTH GATE as personal favorites but this new film is a political thriller without the thrilling parts to it. It tells the story of a ghost writer (played by Ewan McGregor) who is hired to finish the autobiography of a political figure Adam Lang (Pierce Brosnan) after his former ghost seemingly committed suicide.
Just as all this is happening Lang is under investigation for terrorist acts which causes a media frenzy. As Lang’s past seems to come back and haunt him it leaves McGregor’s down a path that has him believing that maybe the former ghost writer didn’t commit suicide and that maybe Lang is responsible for his death among many other things.
The film is wonderfully directed (as all of Polanski’s films are) and acted with a great cast that also includes Kim Cattrall, Olivia Williams, Timothy Hutton, James Belushi, and Tom Wilkinson, but it takes over half the movie to get into the mystery of the film.
McGregor’s character is so passive that the film moves at a snail’s pace until he finally starts to believe that there is more to Lang than meets the eye. I had a similar reaction to the film THE X-FILES: I WANT TO BELIEVE, which I found better the second time around, so, I’m hoping that the same can be said of this film.
THE GHOST WRITER is a slow burning film but which this cast you want the story to snap and pop which it does not and the political aspect of the film is severely down played when it could have been one of the film’s greatest assets. I’ll just have to wait to see my reaction on the film when I decide to give it another chance when it hits DVD later in the year.