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Monday, 19 April 2010

Film - The Ghost - directed by Roman Polanski

Star rating 8/10

You really have to try to put aside all thoughts of the current position of this film’s director, Roman Polanski, if you can, when watching this hugely enjoyable film. The real life parallels would just be too distracting from this slick suspense thriller, which is also very funny in all the right places. Based on a Robert Harris bestseller, it takes us on a hair raising journey with the ghost writer for the former Prime Minister, whose not so simple task is to polish up the manuscript for his memoirs. Ewan McGregor, is very believable as the naïve young writer, whose name is cleverly never revealed; and Pierce Brosnan is surprisingly excellent as the Prime Minister with a murky past who is being put on trial for war crimes. We are to assume that any similarities to a certain Tony Blair and entirely deliberate, and his clever and spiky wife Ruth (with Olivia Williams giving the tour de force of the piece) couldn’t possibly be a nod to Cherie, could she?

So the ghost writer is flown to America, where the ex PM is holed up, and discovers that the previous ghost writer was washed up dead on a beach in somewhat suspicious circumstances. Not a comfortable position to find ones self in. Kim Cattrell is good as the PM’s assistant who is probably getting a bit too close to her boss for the comfort of his wife, even if her English accent is not entirely convincing. She puts the young writer through his paces, and keeps very close tabs on his every move.

Polanski has made a very slick thriller; the build up is spot on, the unfolding events very creepy, and the denouement is a great twist. As the ghost writer gets closer and closer to the truth about his employers, then he has to think fast and run even faster to escape the fate of his predecessor. Tom Wilkinson is excellent as the academic whose welcoming veneer hides something much more sinister.

To say more would be to give the game away. This is a sharp and slick morality tale about a once popular public figure whose popularity quickly gives way to hatred and condemnation. Just can’t help drawing those parallels though Mr Polanski.

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