Opening 18 Feb 2010
Directed by Roman Polanski (The Pianist, Chinatown) and mostly filmed on the German island of Sylt, The Ghostwriter is a political ‘whodunnit’ starring Ewan McGregor (Illuminati, The Island), Pierce Brosnan (The Thomas Crowne Affair, Goldeneye) and Olivia Williams (To Kill A King). The screenplay was written by Robert Harris, author of the best-seller by the same name.
A British ghostwriter (McGregor) is offered the chance of a lifetime – to write the memoirs of former Prime Minister Adam Lang (Brosnan). In fact, he is supposed to rewrite and edit an almost-completed, but poorly written and boring, manuscript, authored by another writer who had recently died in a tragic ferry accident. Accepting the assignment means travelling to the US East Coast island of Martha's Vineyard, where Lang has withdrawn for a month. Shortly after the ghostwriter's arrival, the ex-Prime Minister's retreat is disturbed by news that his former Foreign Minister is publicly accusing him of authorising the rendition of terror suspects for torturing abroad. Lang is required to answer in front of the International Court at The Hague. Tension builds and nerves begin to fray; but the ghostwriter soon realises that the accusations are not all that is disturbing the peace on the quiet island. Little by little, he uncovers a confusing nest of intrigue where his predecessor's death was definitely not an accident, though the purpose for murder is unclear; however, the fact that so many people are trying to get their hands on the manuscript suggests the words reveal more than is evident at a first glance...
I'm glad to say that I didn't guess 'who diddit', which already gives the film kudos from me. On occasion, the thread was hard to follow, but the acting was good, supported by a well-crafted and punchy screenplay. The fact that the political characters in the story are highly suggestive of recent real-life players adds a slightly disturbing note to the film. (Osanna Vaughn)