Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB.5.
France/Germany/United Kingdom, 2010. , France 2 Cinéma, , Runteam, Pathé, Canal+, StudioCanal, France Télévisions, CinéCinéma, Filmförderung Hamburg Schleswig-Holstein, Summit Entertainment. Screenplay by Roman Polanski, Robert Harris, based on the novel The Ghost by Robert Harris. Cinematography by Pawel Edelman. Produced by Robert Benmussa, Roman Polanski, Alain Sarde. Music by Alexandre Desplat. Production Design by Albrecht Konrad. Costume Design by Dinah Collin. Film Editing by Herve de Luze. National Board of Review Awards 2010. National Society of Film Critics Awards 2010. Phoenix Film Critics Awards 2010.
Roman Polanski’s scintillating thriller is the perfect example of his command of atmosphere. Ewan McGregor plays a writer whose career has mainly been spent ghosting the autobiographies of notable citizens. His latest assignment is to fly out to Martha’s Vineyard (actually the north coast of Germany) and help with the editing of a book by a Blair-ish former British Prime Minister (Pierce Brosnan), whose original ghost writer was found dead on the beach. When McGregor arrives and is shown to his duties by Brosnan’s elegant secretary (a sadly miscast Kim Cattrall), the world explodes with news that his new boss is linked with the possible illegal torture of terror suspects, and pretty soon McGregor’s lucrative posting becomes a deadly game of survival as information surfaces that is tied to his deceased predecessor. Olivia Williams stands out magnificently as Brosnan’s bitter wife, a perfectly calibrated performance whose turns of anger, fear and vulnerability are bewitching at every step, wonderfully matched with McGregor’s innocent but capable incredulity. Eli Wallach also has a great cameo, but the real star is the man behind the camera, a still masterful auteur who squeezes the tension so tight that breathing is often a task you need to remind yourself to do in many of the film’s most gripping scenes.