Ghost Writer is the latest movie by director Roman Polanski. Ewan McGregor plays "The Ghost", a character who is tapped to edit the memoirs of a former British Prime Minister, Adam Lang (Pierce Brosnan). The ghost accepts the job after the previous ghost writer washes up dead on the eastern U.S. island where Lang and his wife are holed up during the process of writing the memoir. While he attempts to make sense of the previous writer's manuscript, the ghost hears the news that Lang is about to be investigated for war crimes related to his turning over of suspected war criminals to the CIA for questioning and torture. The ghost finds information left behind by the previous writer which calls Lang's story about his beginnings in politics into question. He attempts to follow leads based on that information and begins to uncover connections between Lang and the CIA which were never meant to be included in the memoirs. The plot is complicated by Lang's smart but manipulative wife, who both distrusts and desires the ghost. She harbors deep suspicions about her husband's relationship with his assistant, played by Kim Cattrall.
The movie's rhythm is such that the plot builds on its own merits. The audience feels as though they know what's happening, but not enough to suspect the next twist. The gray, rainy weather adds to the dark, foreboding nature of the storyline. The movie does not succeed as a thriller: the ending does not surprise as much as it confirms the suspicions that the audience has been harboring. It has more of the feel of a murder mystery. Cattrall's command of an English accent is lacking; she doesn't seem to be the right actress for the part. It's also difficult to like any of the characters besides the ghost, and his willingness to engage in unprofessional behavior doesn't endear him to the viewer. But his willingness to risk his safety to satisfy his curiosity makes his character quite interesting. Besides Mcgregor, the acting isn't particularly strong. But the overall production and the storyline reflect the kind of skill that only someone on the level of Polanski can deliver. I give it three stars.