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Movie Review: Roman Polanski's The Ghost Writer (2010)

Ghost Writer is a suspense movie that Hitchcock fans will enjoy.  There is political espionage, a femme fatale, suspicious looks, and signs swinging on a dark stormy night.  Ewan McGregor has been hired as a ghost writer for fictional British Prime Minister, Adam Lang, played by Pierce Brosnan.  Lang is facing criticism for his interrogation techniques used on alleged terrorists, and so his image consultants decide he should write a memoir.  The memoir is partway finished, but the original ghost writer was found dead on the beach, and the book needs to be finished.  Ewan, known only as "The Ghost" in this movie, is hired to complete the task.  He is a loner with a cynical streak, which makes him the perfect ghost writer.  He has no family, and no real social ties, except for a previous relationships he calls "complicated."

The Ghost is brought to Lang's beach house where he alternates between interviewing Lang and writing in isolation.  Also staying at the house are Lang's cool, collected wife, Ruth (channeling Grace Kelly) and Lang's assistant and mistress, Amelia (Kim Cattrall).  Lang needs both women, one to be his trusted advisor, and the the other to adore him.

The Ghost is well on his way to getting the job done when he discovers a strange envelope in his bedroom (the room that belonged to the previous ghost writer) that contains photos and items that contradict the stories Lang has been telling him.  Even though the Ghost says "I'm not an investigative journalist," of course he has to get down to the bottom of things.  And he begins to suspect that the previous ghost writer's death was no accident.

The film encourages the audience to follow the trail of the truth along with its protagonist.  The suspense builds beautifully from beginning to end.  Our Ghost is an every man.  He has no connections, and, therefore, can't trust anyone.  In the same regard, no one can fool him.  He has no moral compass but only a desire to know the truth.  And the truth, elusive as it is, isn't fully known or appreciated until the end.  This is a great movie to watch for all of those Hitchcock fans out there.  It does lean on the liberal side, but what movie doesn't these days?

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