The Ghost Writer (2010)

Genre(s): Drama / Mystery / Thriller
Summit || PG13 - 128 minutes - $26.99 || August 3, 2010
Reviewer: Brian Oliver || Posted On: 2010-08-03

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.:: F I L M ::.
The Film

.: F E A T U R E S :.

Special Features

.:: V I D E O ::.

.:: A U D I O ::.

.:: O V E R A L L ::.
Director: Roman Polanski
Writer(s): Robert Harris (book); Robert Harris and Roman Polanski (screenplay)
Cast: Ewan McGregor, Pierce Brosnan, Kim Cattrall, Olivia Williams, Tom Wilkinson, Timothy Hutton

Theatrical Release Date: March 19, 2010

Supplemental Material:
  • 3 Featurettes

Technical Information:
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Widescreen (2.35)
  • English (Dolby Digital 5.1), Spanish (Dolby Digital 5.1)
  • Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish

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.::THE FILM::.

Ghostwriting is a professional writer who is paid to write books and other works of literature that are officially attributed to another person. Celebrities, executives and political leaders often hire ghostwriters to draft or edit autobiographies, magazine articles, or other written material. (Definition from Wikipedia).

So with that in mind, Robert Harris came up with the idea which he eventually wrote into the novel, “The Ghost” in which former British Prime Minister Adam Lang (PIERCE BROSNAN) – not so vaguely inspired by Tony Blair – is accused of war crimes after during his time as PM had handed terrorist suspects over to the CIA who in turn sent them to countries with lax laws on torture.

Now in retirement after his resignation from office, he’s trying to write his memoirs and after his first ghostwriter turns up dead along the ocean after apparently trying to commit suicide off of a ferry, a new ghostwriter (EWAN MCGREGOR who is in fact credited merely as “The Ghost”) is hired to finish the book within a month. He’s flown overseas to Massachusetts where Lang’s compound is run by secretary Amelia Bly (KIM CATTRALL) and guarded by an army of private security officials.

We actually don’t even meet Adam Lang until about the 30-minute mark in the film as he comes off a private plane (financed by a Haliburton-like company) and now The Ghost’s work must begin as he tries to probe into Lang’s early years and doing a rewrite of the 600+ page memoir already written by his predecessor, but soon finds the task becoming more and more difficult. He also begins to suspect wrongdoing in the death of the previous writer especially after, during a leisure bike ride in the Winter Massachusetts weather, comes across an old man (ELI WALLACH) who explains how the guy died couldn’t have been possible.

After the news broke that Lang should be brought up on war crimes charges, the compound goes into lockdown mode. Previously, The Ghost was staying at a modest Inn but is moved into the house and living in the room where his predecessor stayed and whose possessions are strangely still in place, a matter of convenience – or inconvenience – for our central character as he finds some hidden photos and other evidence that shows inconsistencies with Lang’s story on how he got involved in politics.

In a word, I really liked this movie and if not for the final scenes, I would certainly consider this one of the best movies of 2010. As with many of his other recent films, thrillers in particular, have more than a touch of Alfred Hitchcock to them including The Ninth Gate, the last movie I had seen of his just a few months ago when Lionsgate released it on Blu-ray.

But beyond the direction one also have to give props to the performances throughout save perhaps for Kim Cattrall, though it’s not really her fault that the character doesn’t really connect on the same levels as the rest. At the center here is Ewan McGregor and Pierce Brosnan that, despite the fact that they really don’t share that many scenes together, do have some good chemistry going as do McGregor and Olivia Williams as their characters share a certain attraction that is strangely subtle in that the consequences don’t go into the realm most other Hollywood films take it to.

Now, the reason I did knock the film down a nudge is because the final scene and twist was a tad much for me to accept, though it’s just as believable as what has been seen in The Da Vinci Code and Angels & Demons so it’s not a big deal, not as much as the last scene where I know what Polanski was after, but it never quite worked for me both in the coincidence needed for it to happen and just the impact it had on me which was more indifference.

So, overall The Ghost Writer isn’t a perfect film by any stretch but I enjoyed the hell out of the mystery/thriller aspects that call back to many Hitchcock classics and even with a finale that didn’t quite work for me, I would not hesitate to recommend this picture.


There are not a whole lot of features on this Blu-ray: First up is The Ghost Writer: Fiction or Reality (10:46), a featurette on the source material for the movie and characters via an interview from author/screenwriter Robert Harris and intertwined with behind-the-scenes footage; The Cast of “The Ghost Writer” (11:48) focuses on the actors, as well as a few members of the crew, working on the film and their experiences with Roman Polanski; and last is An Interview with Roman Polanski (8:38) where the fugitive director talks about what drew him to the project and some of his comments come over more behind-the-scenes footage.

All told, there is only a little over 30-minutes of footage here and it would’ve been nice to have a featurette focused solely on the ghost writing profession. As it stands, the featurettes are OK but could’ve been far more expansive.


The movie is presented in its original 2.35 aspect ratio and in anamorphic widescreen. Although it’s not always a guarantee lately that a recent theatrically released feature will get a good video transfer on DVD (Blu-ray normally does not disappoint), I was somewhat impressed with this one. The only complaint I had, and this very well could’ve been how the director intended, is that some scenes looked a tad... “splotchy” and even oversaturated so the detail levels, even by DVD standards, isn’t the best. However, I didn’t notice a whole lot in the way of pixilation and the black levels were pretty impressive as well.

The Dolby Digital 5.1 may not be an aural experience, I thought the track was good enough to my ears. The thing is, this isn’t a movie that is going to test your surround system as it is generally dialogue driven save for a tense car chase or a gunshot.


The Ghost Writer may not a masterpiece of the political thriller genre but it’s still pretty damn entertaining. Unfortunately the DVD doesn’t offer much but the video and audio aspects are more than acceptable and because the movie is so good, it might be worth a purchase later down the line.