Tuesday, August 3, 2010

DVD Review: Roman Polanski's Latest

The Ghost Writer

Director Roman Polanski knows first-hand about getting away with a crime -- and he carries the theme over to his latest film, the political thriller The Ghost Writer. No matter what you feel about his personal life, Polanski is an excellent director who has created movie magic with such films as Rosemary's Baby, Chinatown and The Pianist.

In another strong achievement for Polanski, Pierce Brosnan plays fictional former British Prime Minister Adam Lang -- who is living on Martha's Vineyard while completing his memoirs (of course, production was actually completed in Germany due to Polanski's inability to step foot in the United States). Lang's long-term aide and ghost writer has died in an accident -- and a successor (Ewan McGregor) is hired to take over the project. Soon, the new ghost writer learns that his predecessor's death may not have been an accident -- and that his employer is mixed up in a world of mess that involves accusations of war crimes and CIA cover-ups.

McGregor (Angels & Demons) is terrific in the lead -- his impressive performance actually helps the film overcome the occasional absurd bump in script logic. Equally great is Kim Cattrall (Sex and the City fame) as Lang's assistant. I was amazed she pulled off the British accent so well -- until I learned that the actress is actually from the United Kingdom -- it was news to me! There are also very good turns by Brosnan (Oceans), Olivia Williams, Tom Wilkinson and veteran Eli Wallach.

The film is an adaptation of the Robert Harris novel, The Ghost. Harris and Polanski co-wrote the screenplay. If you cannot forgive Polanski for his person indiscretions, that's understandable. But you'll be missing one of the better thrillers to come along in a while. [Rated PG-13; released on DVD today]

Grade: B+

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