the ghost writer
Roman Polnski
Starring Pierce Brosnam Tom Wilkerson Ewan Mcgregor and Kim Cattral

The story begins with a Grey minivan parked on what is supposed to be a ferry on martha’s vineyard. The driver missing, as time passes a corpse washes ashore. Later in a cramp room a writer is hired to take up where his predecessor left off in completing a lightning stroke of a manuscript that is going to sell for 10 million. His job is to act as the unofficial voice of former prime minister of England. But things are not what they seem of course and down a rabbit hole of subtle tension we go.

GhostWriter is one of those intellectual pot boilers where words sentences and phrases have a knack of having double meanings. Who better a hero for this sort of mind field than a writer right?  Ewan Mcgregor plays our dashing bookworm and our tour guide into the world of politics. However he is either not interested at what’s happening nearby or not in the loop to decode it. It doesn’t help that he isn’t a political hound either. The depth of his situation is revealed in kibbles and bits along a road which leads him deeper into the woods so to speak.The backgrounds are filmed as if they are concealing something the naked eye cannot penetrate. We hear conversations behind closed doors slightly muffled yielding fragments but like our naive friend cannot make out what we don’t understand.

Is the death of a colleague a murder or a suicide? That is a question resolved off screen twice, the second time didn’t give me the pleasure i was hoping for when i initially sat down to watch this paranoid psycho conspiracy thriller. Just knowing the genre is enough for me to start mulling possibilities, key players and pulling strings. What secret is on the data key? Why does the old man in the bar call him an asshole? Who is driving that car? Is a war crime tribunal the cover for something far more ominous. Above all else sex is definitely not mysterious or is the intentions behind it. Like other devices it is employed because it is naturally supposed to convey love or intimacy. But that depends on who you ask.

Not unassuming is GHOST WRITER, more blase actually. Most thrillers can discombobulate the viewer into a realm of identity conflict and insatiable curiosity . Like being blindfolded and turned in a circle the idea is to confuse and disorientate. Tricks such as telling the story in nonlinear fashion is one of the more effective tools of the trade. However it is predictable. If you know the rules of writing screenplays or fiction this tool most often than not results in a twist which is usually in front of the viewer. GHOST WRITER is written in a linear fashion meaning the writers and the filmmakers have decided to play it straight. This is risky business. On one hand a linear approach enables the writer to open with the viewer in a comfort zone. On the other hand you better be good at sustained tension because your building the apparatus in front of the audience with the spotlight clearly on you while you work.

That approach is the problem with THE GHOST WRITER it’s mystery though compelling to me is predictable. When someone says “She makes all decisions.” Everything that follows is pretty easy to unearth. I felt as if I had arrived there two hours before our hero who seemed to take his gingerly time getting out of insurmountable sticky situations just to get cocky at the worst possible time.

Great dialogue furnishes the interior of this vehicle raising it above 60% of the crap out there. THE GHOST WRITER is a throwback to thrillers of the 60’s and 70’s and some 80’s. Movies like the HUNT FOR REDO OCTOBER and 3 DAYS OF THE CONDOR come to mind, probably not the best comparisons but those movies engaged the viewer on slow building tension methods. But in today’s marketplace I’m not sure if this material can work to mass audiences. Primarily because our interest in a hero who by all accounts appears to be a greedy interloping mercenary is out maneuvered by a myriad of unknown cogs in a mystery which like my opinion is easily decoded with the use of the phrase new beginnings.