Film Review: “The Ghost Writer” ★★★★★ (5/5)

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.

10 thoughts on “Film Review: “The Ghost Writer” ★★★★★ (5/5)

  1. Totally agree on the “atmospheric” description. I loved it from beginning to end. This is a perfect example of what great direction can do in cinema.


  2. It is a very creepy thriller with excellent atmosphere. Polanski is the master of claustrophobic/paranoid thriller, and he did it again. Like many of his best movies, there is always the presence of a sinister force lurking at the fringe of “The Ghost Writer”, and several things are left unanswered in ambiguity. But this is the first-class thriller that never loses its grip on us from the uneasy opening scene to the memorable finale.

    In the documentary “Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired”, the prosecutor of that infamous trial observed that his movies have a recurring motif – Water. Again, there is plenty of water in “The Ghost Writer”.


    1. Interesting, I’ll have to watch this documentary because water does play a major role in “The Ghost Writer”. Even the way he shot the ocean was atmospheric and haunting. It’s one of those movies I can rewatch several times whenever there’s the need to plunge into an atmospheric environment.


  3. Hi there Weal! Your reviews are such a joy to read. My friend and I are huge fans of films (in general) and just a few days ago we thought we should start a blog to share some of our opinions on films. I thought it would also be fun to discuss the film over facebook and post the convo on the blog. Do you mind having a look at our blog and give us some of your expert advise on how to properly construct a review?

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