I’m not an avid fan of Roman Polanski and his films. From his vast catalogue, I have only seen ‘The Pianist’ and I don’t think it would be fair to compare it to ‘The Ghost’ as the subject matter is greatly contrasted. From seeing how Polanski could create a fantastic film such as ‘The Pianist’, I expected more of the same. However, I was disappointed with ‘The Ghost’.
Ewan McGregor plays the title character, a ghost-writer for a former British Prime Minister, played by Pierce Brosnan. As the ghost-writer continues working for the ex-PM and learning about his past, secrets are uncovered about the ghost’s predecessor and his suspicious death, as well as the PM’s involvement in illegal foreign matters. What follows is quite a convoluted investigation involving the Prime Minister’s wife, played by Olivia Williams, and an old acquaintance, played by Tom Wilkinson.
The basic premise has potential: a ghost-writer uncovers secrets whilst writing the memoirs for an ex-Prime Minister. However, the all-important MacGuffin: the secrets in the memoirs, are never really explained or even hinted at until right at the very end of the film, resulting in the viewer not caring whether they stay safe or fall into the ‘wrong hands’. We are never really told who the ghost should be trusting, which is probably intentional but just comes off as confusing.
The Prime Minister is made out to be a bad-tempered, deceiving sex-pest and if he does get punished for his alleged crimes, the viewer is hard-pressed to find sympathy for him. Although, the opposition are made out to be just as deceiving and disloyal. This makes us wonder who can be trusted.
But again, by this point, the viewer is still left wondering why the ghost has gotten into this position in the first place, as he doesn’t even know what he’s protecting.
I apologise if that last part didn’t make sense. This is my first attempt at an online film review and I’m finding it hard working the plot out in my head at such a late hour.
I felt as if the script-writers (Polanski and the book’s author Robert Harris) tried to fit in as much of the original book as possible. This could explain why some scenes appeared lacking in depth, so to shorten the film’s overall length. Quite a few scenes I felt were unnecessary and could have been cut, leaving crucial scenes with more screen-time so to explain more of the increasingly complicated storyline.
An example of this would be during an event, a note is passed from the back of a crowd to the front via several people. Instead of showing the note entering the crowd and then the recipient receiving it, Polanski shows each individual person receive and pass on the note. It begins with suspense, but as the note’s journey lengthens, the importance gets overshadowed by how long the scene takes for such a simple payoff.
On a side note, I hate it when Americans, such as Kim Cattrall, are cast as Brits, and British actors, such as Tom Wilkinson, are cast as Americans. I know it’s their job to be versatile, but in this case, their accents distracted from the dialogue and action.
Overall, I was left disappointed by ‘The Ghost’ and even though it had some hidden potential sneaking through the cracks in the plot, I probably wouldn’t recommend to friends.
Rating – 4/10