Nifty edgy filmmaking
The source material for the new film by Roman Polanski may not be by any stretch a great book (by Robert Harris). Some may say it is just run-of-the-mill political thriller. But what Polanski, at his best, master of paranoia made something extraordinary in his latest small, scaled, smart noir The Ghost Writer. Mood is set in very first night shot of a ferry in the rain with pulsating background score, an abandoned car in the middle of the road, a corpse is washed out at the shore. That body is of former ghost writer of former Brit prime minister Adam Lang’s (very good Pierce Brosnan) memoirs. Lang is clearly based on Tony Blair and his relationship with US and Bill Clinton presidency. Ewan McGregor steps in his replacement (his character is never named) who will be paid handsomely but need to finish the half finished manuscript in a month on a private isolated island Martha’s vineyard in US where Lang is currently living where he is greeted with Lang’s Assistant Amelia (Kim Cattrall, Sex and the City) who might be his mistress and his flinty wife Ruth (Olivia Williams) who plays significant role in his political career.
Even before landing on the coast uncertain writer starts seeing things just like with Johnny Depp in Polanski’s Ninth Gate. Manuscript being snatched, odd faces. Polanski creates grim atmosphere using palate of gray, blue, black and hostile characters with cloak and dagger. Things starts to look strange and soon stranger. Ocean, rain, air feels menacing; even its sense of humor where author increasingly gets trapped in and nothing seems going his way. In one scene where he introduces himself to Lang as “Hi, I am your ghost” and Lang is pulled back not amused. Lang’s past comes in the spotlight for war crimes and whole island turns into a crisis war room kind place and things start to unravel while writer soon starts to discover or stumble on the mysteries, conspiracies those are starling pushing him deeper in grave danger or in his own grave.
This is old-school thriller rarely made these days without a false note. Sense of paranoia and dread is not only in its lead but induced in the audience, a rich rewarding Hitchcockian experience till end and it has one of masterful last shots in movies. A minor classic. Seek out this ghost.
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