Roman Polanski. Love him or hate him, he's a very good director responsible for several timeless classics. His latest is The Ghost Writer, a thriller starring Ewan McGregor, Pierce Brosnan and Olivia Williams. At times captivating, other times flat, the movie is not one of his better productions. Still, a weak Polanski production is superior to most movies currently available.
In The Ghost Writer, McGregor stars as the title character, who is assigned to ghost write the memoir of the former British prime minister (Brosnan) after his predecessor is found drowned to death, presumably by accident or suicide. A first draft has already been written, but the one-month deadline is still ominous. More troubling is that McGregor begins to suspect that his predecessor was murdered to cover up a disturbing secret.
The movie starts strong but begins to fade at the halfway mark. Polanski establishes an intriguing premise; coupled with a unique, enthralling score, The Ghost Writer has the elements to be a great thriller. Cast in gray overtones, The Ghost Writer looks great and generates a moody, uniquely claustrophobic atmosphere. McGregor turns in a fine performance and successfully carries the film; Brosnan and Williams are good in supporting roles.
Unfortunately, The Ghost Writer doesn't build to a satisfying climax. Polanski never carries through on his premise of suspense and instead provided a few isolated sequences that fail to gel together. The biggest problem is that the suspense boils over too soon and the degree to which it boils isn't satisfying.
The movie ends with a forgettable, somewhat predictable twist. It's too little too late, and also doesn't properly tie up many loose ends in the story. Had it done so, the twist would have been more powerful and memorable.
The Ghost Writer is a decent thriller, but it lacks the intrigue and excitement one would expect from a Polanski film. It's a great premise without the plot structure necessary to execute the story.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.
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