The Ghost Writer - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

The Ghost Writer Reviews

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Super Reviewer
June 23, 2010
An engaging and tense thriller with an intriguing mystery and a stylish direction that bring to mind Polanski's finest works, and some scenes here are spectacular, especially the final sequence, while Ewan McGregor puts in a very strong performance.
Super Reviewer
½ July 29, 2010
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.
Super Reviewer
April 18, 2010
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.
Super Reviewer
April 2, 2010
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.
Super Reviewer
½ January 21, 2010
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.
paul o.
Super Reviewer
March 4, 2012
Not the best conspiracy film but under the hand of Roman Polanski, it entertains you long enough to finish it.
Super Reviewer
April 29, 2011
Oh my god, the foghorns just kill me. Polanski has long maintained a fetish for brooding obsession that pushes the lines of sexual perversion, yet it is in "Ghost Writer"'s the deft construction of atmosphere and tension where he truly succeeds. The pervasive gloom that taints the air is reminiscent of Hitchcock's classic thrillers, replete with Tim Burton-esque tinkles and the ominous sounds of a distant foghorn. The disillusioned, boozy "ghost" could have come straight out of the 50s film noir reels of Billy Wilder or Orson Welles, a hardboiled writer who purposefully shuts out the drama ensuing behind him. In true fashion, Olivia Williams ("An Education") plays Lang's wife Ruth, the mysterious victim/femme fatale whose intentions are not quite certain. Indeed, "The Ghost Writer" is much more plot-based than it is character, a move that keeps the audience constantly anticipating each word, twisting with surprises up until the very last frame. At the same time, the film crackles with mordant wit in the most unexpected areas, relieving the audience's buildup of tension for a slight second.Wtih his lithe construction of tension and gripping tales of intrigue, romance and obsession, Polanski masterfully transforms what quickly could've escalated into a pedestrian chase-and-evade flick into an effective political espionage thriller for those who can't stand the genre. Because the film doesn't claim to be anything more than popcorn entertainment, it manages to succeed beyond its wildest expectations. "Ghost Writer" should be the touchstone against which all post-Oscar-pre-blockbuster films should be measured against, a film that embraces the advent of modern technology while paying homage to one of the greatest filmmakers of all time.
Super Reviewer
October 11, 2009
I quite simply dont understand it!
yes its got a good cause to be a stylish political thriller with a brilliant cast, however if fails to impress me, i find it confusing and i dont completely see the whole point and then to round it of your left unsatifisfyed at the as it truly showed that the film itself thought it was pointless.
Brosnan and McGregor are brilliant as leads and it has a great supporting cast however i find it just isnt upto scratch to make it an interesting thriller.
Kyle F.
Super Reviewer
June 29, 2011
It may not be an extremely original or revealing thriller storywise (despite being very well written), but it's wonderfully atmospherical and rivetingly interesting, enough so to always grab full attention without boring. Ewan McGregor is great, and proves that he is one of the most charismatic actors out there.
The style is something very much this movies own, and Alexandre Desplat's score exhilerates.
Super Reviewer
June 29, 2011
three stars
Super Reviewer
April 24, 2011
Juicy thriller, excellent finale. I would've like to have seen Sean Bean being cast alongside Pierce Brosnan, reignite the Bond-Trevelyan rivalry!
Super Reviewer
½ March 27, 2011
It is a rather sad commentary that a tightly wound, "adult" thriller such as Ghostwriter comes as such a rarity these days. Indeed, this Roman Polanski directed film harkens back to films of another era, where tension was built block by block and the audience didn't need a car chase every five minutes to whet their ADD addled attention spans.

I say "adult" because this film simply doesn't cater to those base desires to show you all flash and sizzle - preferring to take you on a rather harrowing journey of discovery that, in spite of some nods to filming convention script wise, still manages to build a considerable amount of tension.

Without revealing too much, the story goes something like this: former British Prime Minister Adam Lang (masterfully portrayed by James Bond... I mean Pierce Brosnan) wants to cash in on his celebrity by writing his memoirs. Unfortunately the original ghostwriter (the scribe who takes the musings of the "great man" and turns it into something approaching a readable text) mysteriously winds up lying dead on a beach. Negotiations for a replacement follow and "The Ghost" played ably by Ewan McGregor, enters the picture and is contracted to "clean up and polish" the manuscript of his predecessor. While working on the project McGregor begins to feel that something is not quite right, and here Polanski exhibits his considerable directing skills in setting an ominous tone where just about anything and everyone looks somehow suspicious.

This is a film all about tone, from the gloomy wet landscapes of Martha's Vineyard in winter, to the cold interior of the PM's concrete and steel home. Add in the perfectly British air of cold efficiency provided by the PM's aide (a wonderful role for Kim Cattrall) and the buttoned down manners of the PM's wife Ruth, plus the chilly detachment of the Asian maid/cook who appears to either know something or is going to suddenly go all ninja fu - it all ratchets up the tension and keeps you guessing.

Polanski borrows heavily from past masters like Hitchcock in laying out this story through various conversations and just a hint of plot convenience, yet for all the seemingly innocuous conversations, the tension continues to bubble just beneath the surface, with just enough glances in rearview mirrors at black sedans to make you feel just as McGregor must - that he is a fly caught in a web of something very dark.

As the secret begins to unfold there are some wonderful cameos as McGregor meets up with Eli Wallach, and, in a brief but off the charts bit of acting, Tom Wilkinson whose portrayal of a pompous yet somehow dangerous academian who may be some kind of political power broker, or perhaps something even deeper. Indeed there exists a strong political undertow to the film, as one can easily imagine Andy Lang being Tony Blair, and Wilkinson being perhaps some kind of facilitator for Halliburton. Part and parcel in a film delving into politics, motivations and allegiances are murky at best, which further enhances the feeling of claustrophobia where you can truly trust no one.

The only misstep comes just before the film's conclusion, where a note is passed as if saying, "I know the truth". It is out of character and unnecessary, and yet the filming of the note being passed from hand to hand, never seeing more than the torsos of those doing the passing is so brilliant that you can forgive Polanski (who co-penned the script along with Robert Harris, who wrote the book upon which the film is based) his transgression. What follows, with the action taking place just off screen, with only the aftermath being shown on screen is a bit of cinematic genius and aptly shows a director in complete control of every aspect of his film.
Super Reviewer
½ March 14, 2011
Political movies don't always hold attention well, but with the twists and mysteries of an intelligent thriller the Ghost Writer develops into quite the exciting adventure. The plot of this film is enough to keep you intrigued although it does have it's slow moments. As the story picks up pace, the dangerous position of the ghost writer heightens, and the mysterious secrets that begin to unfold lead to a decent climax of discovery with a few twists and turns.
Super Reviewer
½ August 5, 2010
It's just kind've hilarious that this movie is so highly regarded. For me, it was just the most pointless story. Nothing is accomplished and nearly every moment is taken in vain by the end. While it might look pretty and have sophisticated British lingo, it's still completely ridiculous. I also think the blatantly obvious parallels with Tony Blair was just incredibly uninteresting, after all the reminders, I just wanted to say "we get it". Now I usually find Roman Polanski to be a god among directors, but this is one of his exceptions to me. At first I tried to forget its flaws and pretend that I liked it, but it really just annoys me at this point.
Super Reviewer
December 16, 2010
while I found the mystery a little underwhelming, the direction is solid and the last shot is awesome.
Super Reviewer
August 13, 2010
A very interesting political thriller that is only about Politicians not politics! Slow at times, but still very good movie.
Super Reviewer
January 30, 2011
this was a 4 star film until the final 5 minutes or so, and then one piece of dialogue and one event in the closing minutes made zero sense as a conclusion to an otherwise excellently crafted thriller, and the film dropped for me quite a bit. the acting, atmosphere, and screen play were excellent. overall a well made movie with an unfortunate ending.
Super Reviewer
August 5, 2010
The Ghost Writer is one of those films that when I saw it, I simply felt it was good. I saw it in early March, and as more great films have been released, this film has always remained in my mind. I think it's very good as opposed to just okay. It's not brilliant, but it's still is a strong film and one of the better movies of the year. Very intense and it had some good performances. The ending really was a shocker to me....check this film out!
Super Reviewer
½ September 7, 2010
Ok..this movie had one of the best endings that I have seen in a very long time. In my opinion, it was done perfectly. The pages of the memoirs blowing down the wet pavement makes the most profound statement of the movie. I don't ever remember seeing a Roman Polanski film, but if this was an example of what I missed..well then maybe I should check one of those oldies out. This movie was the closest thing to Hitchcock since Hitchcock, where pace and acting combine to create tension. Really great job!!
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