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The Ghost Writer (2010)


Average Rating: 7.4/10
Reviews Counted: 197
Fresh: 164
Rotten: 33

Critics Consensus: While it may lack the revelatory punch of Polanski's finest films, Ghost Writer benefits from stylish direction, a tense screenplay, and a strong central performance from Ewan McGregor.

Average Rating: 7.5/10
Reviews Counted: 41
Fresh: 34
Rotten: 7

Critics Consensus: While it may lack the revelatory punch of Polanski's finest films, Ghost Writer benefits from stylish direction, a tense screenplay, and a strong central performance from Ewan McGregor.


Average Rating: 3.5/5
User Ratings: 59,313


Movie Info

When a successful British ghost writer, The Ghost, agrees to complete the memoirs of former British Prime Minister Adam Lang, his agent assures him it's the opportunity of a lifetime. But the project seems doomed from the start-not least because his predecessor on the project, Lang's long-term aide, died in an unfortunate accident. As The Ghost works, he begins to uncover clues suggesting his predecessor may have stumbled on a dark secret linking Lang to the CIA-and that somehow this information … More

PG-13 (for language, brief nudity/sexuality, some violence and a drug reference)
Mystery & Suspense , Drama
Directed By:
Written By:
Robert Harris
In Theaters:
Aug 3, 2010
Box Office:
Summit Entertainment - Official Site


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Critic Reviews for The Ghost Writer

All Critics (197) | Top Critics (41) | Fresh (164) | Rotten (33) | DVD (7)

The thread of black humour that runs throughout the film compensates for its occasional moments of madness. It's a film just silly enough to be taken deadly seriously.

Full Review… | April 15, 2010
Time Out
Top Critic

The result is a political thriller refreshingly long on grown-up dialogue yet lamentably shy on, well, thrills. This chatty thing does go on.

Full Review… | March 5, 2010
Globe and Mail
Top Critic

The swirl of visual poetry, political intrigue and personal zeal that Polanski creates gets under your skin and brings an icy hand up your back. This is moviemaking.

Full Review… | March 5, 2010
Detroit News
Top Critic

Polanski is in total command of his medium, something that hasn't been a sure thing since the 1970s, The Pianist notwithstanding.

Full Review… | March 5, 2010
Toronto Star
Top Critic

So elegant, so deliciously scary, so masterfully controlled that you feel tingles of bliss even as your skin crawls.

Full Review… | March 4, 2010
Minneapolis Star Tribune
Top Critic

Another director would almost certainly have bobbled this devilish mixture of paperback suspense, political chicanery, and jet-black comedy. In Polanski's hands, it's an unholy pleasure: a diversion that stings.

Full Review… | March 4, 2010
Boston Globe
Top Critic

In the total context of Polanski's hard life and grim ordeals ... The Ghost Writer constitutes a miracle of artistic and psychological resilience.

Full Review… | June 20, 2013
Film Comment Magazine

It's a slow build that hints at something big from the beginning but unravels nicely throughout.

Full Review… | July 31, 2012
7M Pictures

The Ghost Writer is tense, unsettling and deeply thrilling because of the way a master filmmaker looks at the world.

Full Review… | May 1, 2011
Parallax View

Polanski's a master of carefully drawing you in that cold gray place where everything is wrong, no one sleeps well and secrets are hidden from the hapless main character until it's too late for anyone to make it out with their lives or souls intact.

Full Review… | April 4, 2011

For all of it's mirroring of real life circumstances, The Ghost Writer's shrouded revelations are ever transitory.

Full Review… | March 9, 2011
Reel Times: Reflections on Cinema

The great thing about Brosnan's performance is that his character's shadow looms over the entire film, yet Brosnan never resorts to chewing the scenery or becoming a Blair charicature.

Full Review… | February 17, 2011
The Standard

Polanski's skills are obvious in his compositions and patience, and a nervous energy hovers over much of the picture...yet I consistently felt disengaged, like the pacing was mismanaged.

Full Review… | January 30, 2011
Film and Felt

I would not put the narrative conceit The Ghost Writer perpetrates in its final moments past a doped up high school sophomore in a screenwriting elective.

Full Review… | January 10, 2011

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.

Full Review… | November 7, 2010

Polanski at near the top of his form

Full Review… | October 8, 2010

Polanski does an excellent job evoking an increasing sense of paranoia and danger.

Full Review… | August 27, 2010
Cinema Autopsy

The Greyscale Adventures Of Tony Blair: SuperSpy (as I call it) is a deliberately directed, well acted and classy treatment of a plot that is so balls-out ridiculous I firmly believe the writer wears a tin-foil hat.

Full Review… | August 17, 2010

Polanski grinds the gears to entertaining effect, never losing pace from beginning to end, while not necessarily offering anything new.

Full Review… | August 17, 2010
Window to the Movies

We're all entitled to our own opinions regarding his past but Polanski deserves credit as a filmmaker. The Ghost Writer proves that he's as good as ever at the age of 77.

Full Review… | August 16, 2010
ABC Radio Brisbane

Polanski's master touch, his attention to framing, lighting, to every detail, and his wicked visual witticisms make it a joy for any film lover. Welcome back, Roman.

Full Review… | August 12, 2010
MovieTime, ABC Radio National

This effort joins the director's Frantic in the "jet-lag" category where mind and body can never quite catch up with a new, deeply problematic -- and probably dangerous -- environment.

Full Review… | August 12, 2010

[E]legant, gripping... gorgeously simple to look at yet deeply involving in its story...

Full Review… | August 12, 2010
Flick Filosopher

In every respect, this is an exemplar of the art of the thriller. Directors like Polanski are a dying breed. We need more of them.

Full Review… | August 11, 2010
Sunday Mail (Australia)

Stylish and gripping, The Ghost Writer features a master filmmaker at his very best and a story writhing in personal vendetta.

Full Review… | August 11, 2010
Matt's Movie Reviews

Though Polanski might be a shadow of the filmmaker he once was, he still knows how to push, prod and deceive an audience every which way.

Full Review… | August 10, 2010
Courier Mail (Australia)

Audience Reviews for The Ghost Writer


A populist ghost writer is employed to rewrite the memoirs of a former Prime Minister but when the politician is accused of war crimes, he becomes increasingly fearful for his safety. The Ghost is a very old school cold war style political thriller that is based upon a character who is purely fictional and in no way represents anyone living or dead - especially not Tony Blair, nosiree Bob. Roman Polanski has always had a knack for paranoid conspiracy thrillers and this understated yet suspenseful example follows very much in the footsteps of Hitchcock, revolving as it does around an everyman protagonist who finds himself completely out of his depth when he blunders into intrigue. Although it is set mostly in America, The Ghost has quite a European flavour with a quality cast of character actors who utter dialogue that actually sounds like the words of English people (for a change) and there's no superficial flash or irrelevant action sequences. The one major flaw is the rather glib twist at the end which makes the film feel a little insubstantial in the final analysis but a likeable performance by Ewan McGregor and some nicely judged political intrigue makes the journey there well worthwhile.

xGary Xx

Super Reviewer

Ewan plays a ghost writer who takes up a job to ghost write the memoirs of the ex British Prime Minister Adam Lang (Pierce). Ewan's predecessor and former aide of Lang died in an unfortunate accident. Lang is accused of ordering the torture of terrorists and is being investigated for war crimes. Ewan tries to discover the truth behind the rise of Lang to power and connections with the CIA. It's a very interesting plot but it takes a long time to get to the revelations. Good cast. He movie reminded me of Frost Nixon and Michael Clayton.

Candy Rose

Super Reviewer

A deliberately paced and well rounded political thriller with strong performances and gorgeous cinematography. I found myself staring into the background and taking in the scenery quite a bit during the scenes. This isn't one of those thrillers were someone is on the run the whole time, though. Ewan McGregor is a newly hired ghost writer for a former British Prime Minister who took the place of the last one that was really close to the family when he showed up on the shore of the beach dead. Everyone thought it was just an accident, but was it? As he continues to dig into the past and present of the former British Prime Minister, he discovers shocking secrets that threaten his and the entire nations safety. The Ghost Writer does a good job of keeping things hidden and revealing them little by little to keep your interest during many scenes consisting of nothing but two characters interacting through dialogue. The writing is very good, which helps. There's a few spots where it drags, but nothing bad and it still managed to hold interest throughout. If you are one of those people who likes your thrillers with a little less adrenaline and a healthy does of dialogue and political intrigue, this one is right up your alley.

Josh Lewis

Super Reviewer


Very entertaining and atmospheric conspiracy thriller with a likable leading man and quite a few memorable scenes. It's the gloomy weather on the island, where the ghost writer meets the former prime minister to work on a book, that makes for the unsettling mood of the film. The mansion's very unique architecture just adds to that. The search for the connection of a couple of events that just don't seem to add up is brilliantly filmed, acted and written, it keeps you wondering where it'll all lead. And while the little twist works in the end, the conclusion of the last seconds almost ruins the entire film. That doesn't make the two hours before that any less entertaining, though.

Jens S.

Super Reviewer

The Ghost Writer Quotes

Amelia Bly:
Are you ill?
The Ghost:
No, I'm aging.
– Submitted by Christian B (2 years ago)
Protection Officer No. 2:
Morning, sir. Finished for the night, have we?
The Ghost:
Why don't you just piss off?
– Submitted by Christian B (2 years ago)
Ruth Lang:
I see you've taken out the Lang family tree [from the memoirs]. Adam's very proud of the Langs.
The Ghost:
You know, if you want a family tree, go to a garden center.
– Submitted by Christian B (2 years ago)
The Ghost:
Hey Rick. Now they want the book in two weeks instead of four. Thanks for getting me this job. Can't talk. Some peace protestors are trying to kill me!
– Submitted by Christian B (2 years ago)
The Ghost:
Why he keeps on calling me 'man'?
Amelia Bly:
Oh, he [Adam Lang] does this when he can't remember someone's name.
– Submitted by Vesselinka S (2 years ago)
The Ghost:
It's my first time in a private jet.
Amelia Bly:
Let's hope it's not your last.
– Submitted by Melisa E (2 years ago)

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