The Ghost Writer, starring Ewan McGregor, Pierce Brosnan and Olivia Williams, is Roman Polanski’s latest film, and – while nowhere near his best (see Rosemary’s Baby or The Ninth Gate) – it has all the Polanski hallmarks: A brooding, haunted tone, beautiful and engaging scenes, and a plot that is a little too obvious for its own good.
Ewan McGregor stars as “The Ghost,” a professional ghost writer brought in to complete a memoir for the English Prime Minister (played with beautiful simplicity by Pierce Brosnan, who has the inimitable ability to portray someone both dashing and sophisticated but utterly bereft of a functioning cerebellum). The prior “ghost” has apparently committed suicide, leaving the first draft of the manuscript in a terrible state. McGregor has a month of finish the book. Olivia Williams is Brosnan’s long-suffering wife who befriends McGregor, and she doesn’t appear to have aged a day since she played Bruce Willis’ haunted widow in The Sixth Sense.
The film is shot almost entirely (and tellingly) on the wintry island of Nantucket, and the desolate beaches, constant rain and bunker-like beach house are putty in Polanski’s hands. Tellingly, though, the beginning and the end of the film are shot in London, and this cornice effect is a master touch.
I thoroughly enjoyed this one, and it made me want to go back and watch my other Polanski favorites, but I have to wait for a stormy day, so I can get the mood just right.