Reviewed by Lucy Campbell

Roman Polanski’s latest effort sees the controversial Pole tackle an airport fodder heavyweight in the form of ‘The Ghost Writer,’ an adaptation of Richard Harris’ thriller novel ‘The Ghost.’ Ewan McGregor plays the writer (simply named Ghost) who is employed by ex-British Prime Minister Adam Lang (Pierce Brosnan) to edit his memoirs. The film takes place in Massachusetts, where Lang and his wife Ruth (Olivia Williams) are isolated from prying eyes and pesky journalists. When Lang is accused of war crimes, the film slowly begins to escalate into an espionage thriller, spearheaded by the rather bumbling yet placid Ghost. Of course, it’s all very Tony Blair; names are barely altered for the sake of the film, and it’s sure to be mildly controversial.

But at the centre of this film is some really creaky dialogue, a great deal of exposition and some unsettling acting from the leads. There are parts of the film that veer into Cohen brothers-esque black comedy: “They can’t drown you both. You’re not kittens,” placates an ex-minister to an increasingly paranoid Ghost. But other parts feel heavy and plodding, a few of Ghost’s decisions seem downright bizarre, and really the twist at the end we could see for miles. But in all of this McGregor’s Ghost is strangely unsettling (he also has an atrocious English accent, as is Tom Burlinson’s American) and unequivocally ordinary. His stupidity is understandable when one sees him as a man un-wittingly thrust into a conspiracy, and he reacts in the same way any of us would.

The structure of the film feels a bit off, the set-up is far too long, and there is so much exposition you want to take an axe into the edit room, but there are some great sequences. It isn’t Polanski’s best by any means, but it’s a solid shot at a political thriller that seems ever more relevant in the wake of Iraq and the midst of Afghanistan.

Kryztoff Rating   3.5K