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The Ghost

November 30, 2013

The Ghost (2010)
Director: Roman Polanski
Actors: Ewan McGregor, Pierce Brosnan, Olivia Williams

Image result for the ghost film

Synopsis: An unnamed British writer (Ewan McGregor) is hired to ghost-write the political memoirs of ex-British PM, Adam Lang (Pierce Brosnan). Out at Lang’s retreat in the US, the writer soon becomes disconcerted by Lang’s murky past, the isolated, windswept setting, and the fate of his predecessor who was found mysteriously washed up on the shores of the island near Lang’s house.

Review: This classy, veteran’s genre piece really does find Roman Polanski on cracking form, navigating superbly the fine balancing act between honouring his story’s genuine thriller tension and paranoia, versus its more pulpy, playful bent. 

Mining the core theme of situational terror which I take his major auteur feature to be, Polanski really does make a striking pictorial film – not just in the obvious guise of Adam Lang’s iconic, clinical Martha’s Vineyard beach bunker, but in his stellar cinematography and inimitable ability to suggest a sinister presence just below the surface of so many of his scenes. The section of the film where Ewan McGregor’s unnamed writer follows the same ill-fated trail as his deceased predecessor on the island ferry and through to the ominous residence of Lang’s old university pal, Professor Emmett, really is a directorial masterclass in building tension through mood and technique alone.

Polanski also projects plenty of wry distance from the ultimate, fairly moderate whodunnit machinations of the narrative, suggesting the pleasure is not solely to be gleaned from the end-destination of that story, but in its ride too. There’s a sly undercurrent of gallows humour throughout the film, and it receives its perfect climax in the closing shot, where Ewan McGregor’s ghost – having finally solved the narrative riddle, thus breaking the constant air of threat he’s been under – receives the pay-off he was least expecting.

Talking about Ewan McGregor, it’s an interestingly cast film. Throwing disparate names together like McGregor, Pierce Brosnan, Olivia Williams, Kim Cattrall, Tom Wilkinson, (plus lovely little cameos from the likes of Eli Wallach and James Belushi), suits the relaxed, classy charm of this piece to a T. (November 2013)

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