The most intelligent mystery of the year comes from legendary director, Roman Polanski. I believe “The Ghost Writer” is his best film since “Chinatown”. Similar to his 1974 masterpiece is the way he tells his story, through atmosphere. I was completely captivated from the very first shot to the haunting and creepy closing scene. This isn’t another conventional suspense thriller, for Polanski manages to keep the suspense without the use of action or explosions, he simply relies on serenity, calmness and silence. The result is the most near perfect thriller since Hitchcock.
Based on the book by Robert Harris, the film centers on an unnamed ghost writer (McGregor) hired to finish the memoirs of a former UK Prime Minister, Alan Lang (Brosnan). Lang is retired and living in the United States with his wife (Williams). We learn from the very beginning that the previous ghost writer died in mysterious circumstances. We sense something fishy about all this and so does the ghost writer. Soon after arriving the former Minister is caught up in a scandal that arises from his controversial past.
When he goes to Washington leaving the Ghost alone to finish the memoirs, the Ghost gets more than he bargained for. As we dig deeper into the memoirs, and the details of the death of the former ghost writer, paranoia takes over as we slowly learn the hazardous truth and the highly sensitive material that will all go into the book. The ghost writer’s life is in jeopardy,and danger is slowly creeping in like the misty fog in the atmosphere.
The film isn’t heavy on the politics, at least not too heavy. There’s enough a minimal dose of politics as to not bore you, and enough suspense, twists and turns to keep you guessing up to the very end. The cinematography is one of the year’s best with imagery that will stick with you long after the credits start rolling.
“The Ghost Writer” is sophisticated yet simple, haunting yet beautiful, shocking yet subtle, clever yet fun, a rare treasure, a thriller that will stay with you and remind you that some directors still know how to deliver a superb thriller. I’ve mentioned before that the film is near perfect. Yes, the script, direction cinematography, performances, and musical score are almost flawlessly executed. The suspense builds up slowly and reaches its peak at the very end with one of the most haunting endings of recent memory. “The Ghost Writer” is pure cinema.