The Ghost Writer (2010)
Roman Polanski's latest outing, The Ghost Writer, is a slick and atmospheric political thriller much in the mould of the typical political paranoia films of the 1970s (The Parallax View, Three Days of the Condor, All the President's Men). The red scare has been replaced with the fear of terror, and the two seem to be equally handy bases for a sub-genre of thrillers of more or less political importance and relevance. As handled by Polanski, The Ghost Writer is one of the more enlightened and clever entries.
Our protagonist is an unnamed ghost writer (Ewan McGregor) who travel to the American residence of newly retired British Prime Minister Adam Lang (Pierce Brosnan). Here he is to edit Lang's memoirs for publishing, memoirs which were written by Lang's previous ghost writer McAra, who recently drowned under suspicious circumstances. And when McGregor suddenly finds himself as the household's shared confidante, and discovers that there is something odd with the wiring under the board, his focus turns from writer to private investigator.
McGregor's committed and sympathetic performance is the ideal hub for Polanski to subtly untangle his quite powerful, but never outrageous plot. The film has a classic thriller mood, in which the ever-present ambiguity gives the viewer no reason to neither trust nor suspect anyone. As in politics in general, McGregor must expect that everyone is putting on a show - the question is exactly what the different acts are hiding. Williams, Cattrall, Wilkinson and Brosnan, in probably his best performance since GoldenEye, are all elegantly surrounding themselves with apt doses of mystique. For anyone who likes a little political charade and/or scandal, with more than a slight parallel to real-life personas and situations, The Ghost Writer is as classy and delicately directed as thrillers come. And it is even able to deliver the required twists needed in the genre today without waiving logic or reason - which is remarkable enough in itself.