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The Ghost Writer (2010)



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

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
Critic Reviews: 40
Fresh: 33 | Rotten: 7

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.



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Average Rating: 3.5/5
User Ratings: 58,901

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Movie Info

A ghostwriter stumbles onto a secret that places his life in danger as he takes down the life story of a former U.K. prime minister in this Roman Polanski-helmed adaptation of the Robert Harris novel. Convinced by his agent that he's been granted a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, talented British screenwriter "The Ghost" (Ewan McGregor) agrees to aid British prime minister Adam Lang (Pierce Brosnan) in completing his memoirs after the leader's former aide dies under mysterious circumstances.


Mystery & Suspense, Drama

Robert Harris

Aug 3, 2010


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All Critics (197) | Top Critics (40) | 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.

April 15, 2010 Full Review Source: Time Out
Time Out
Top Critic IconTop 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.

March 5, 2010 Full Review Source: Globe and Mail | Comments (5)
Globe and Mail
Top Critic IconTop 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.

March 5, 2010 Full Review Source: Detroit News | Comments (2)
Detroit News
Top Critic IconTop Critic

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

March 5, 2010 Full Review Source: Toronto Star
Toronto Star
Top Critic IconTop Critic

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

March 4, 2010 Full Review Source: Minneapolis Star Tribune
Minneapolis Star Tribune
Top Critic IconTop 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.

March 4, 2010 Full Review Source: Boston Globe
Boston Globe
Top Critic IconTop Critic

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

June 20, 2013 Full Review Source: Film Comment Magazine
Film Comment Magazine

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

July 31, 2012 Full Review Source: 7M Pictures
7M Pictures

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

May 1, 2011 Full Review Source: Parallax View
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.

April 4, 2011 Full Review Source:

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

March 9, 2011 Full Review Source: Reel Times: Reflections on Cinema
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.

February 17, 2011 Full Review Source: 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.

January 30, 2011 Full Review Source: Film and Felt
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.

January 10, 2011 Full Review Source:

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.

November 7, 2010 Full Review Source: | Comment (1)

Polanski at near the top of his form

October 8, 2010 Full Review Source: CultureCatch

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

August 27, 2010 Full Review Source: Cinema Autopsy
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.

August 17, 2010 Full Review Source: Channel 10 Australia | Comment (1)

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

August 17, 2010 Full Review Source: Window to the Movies
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.

August 16, 2010 Full Review Source: ABC Radio Brisbane
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.

August 12, 2010 Full Review Source: MovieTime, ABC Radio National
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.

August 12, 2010 Full Review Source:

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

August 12, 2010 Full Review Source: Flick Filosopher
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.

August 11, 2010 Full Review Source: Sunday Mail (Australia)
Sunday Mail (Australia)

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

August 11, 2010 Full Review Source: Matt's Movie Reviews
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.

August 10, 2010 Full Review Source: Courier Mail (Australia)
Courier Mail (Australia)

Audience Reviews for The Ghost Writer

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.
July 11, 2013
T Tsang

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.
March 26, 2013

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.
March 6, 2013

Super Reviewer

THE GHOST WRITER was very engaging. Rescan those points above, intertwine them with the spellbinding score by Alexandre Desplat (this is the kind of film he should be scoring), and you probably understand what I refer to. It also seemed a bit uneven. Seeing it as your average movie fan, I loved it, but when I tried to look at it from a political standpoint, I got a bit confused. On top of that, the word ‚ghost‚? is taken a bit too far. It starts out with the proper employment, in the fashion of describing someone who writes the memoirs of a familiar figure, but when the film grows more tense and McGregor begins to shorten, ‚I‚(TM)m his ghostwriter,‚? to simply, ‚I‚(TM)m his ghost,‚? the word seemed to have a whole different meaning. Thankfully, I feel more than compelled to watch more of Roman Polanski‚¶

April 28, 2012

Super Reviewer

    1. Amelia Bly: Are you ill?
    2. The Ghost: No, I'm aging.
    – Submitted by Christian B (21 months ago)
    1. Protection Officer No. 2: Morning, sir. Finished for the night, have we?
    2. The Ghost: Why don't you just piss off?
    – Submitted by Christian B (21 months ago)
    1. Ruth Lang: I see you've taken out the Lang family tree [from the memoirs]. Adam's very proud of the Langs.
    2. The Ghost: You know, if you want a family tree, go to a garden center.
    – Submitted by Christian B (2 years ago)
    1. 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)
    1. The Ghost: Why he keeps on calling me 'man'?
    2. Amelia Bly: Oh, he [Adam Lang] does this when he can't remember someone's name.
    – Submitted by Vesselinka S (2 years ago)
    1. The Ghost: It's my first time in a private jet.
    2. Amelia Bly: Let's hope it's not your last.
    – Submitted by Melisa E (2 years ago)
View all quotes (10)

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Latest News on The Ghost Writer

February 24, 2010:
Total Recall: Roman Polanski's Best Movies
For more than 40 years, on screen and off, no one has been able to unnerve audiences with quite as...

Foreign Titles

  • Der Ghostwriter (DE)
  • The Ghost (UK)
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