DVD Review – The Ghost

Roman Polanski’s conspiracy thriller, The Ghost, is coming to DVD this week.

Ewan McGregor plays the titular ghost writer who is drafted in to ghost write the memoirs of ex-British Prime Minister, Adam Lang (Pierce Brosnan). Along the way, the ghost discovers some uncomfortable secrets that put his life in danger.

Roman Polanski is a director that divides viewers. Some appreciate his films for what they are; others do not seem able to separate Polanski’s films from his notorious personal life, which has been headline fodder for many years. If you are able to watch a film without critiquing the personal choices made by the director then The Ghost is worth a watch.

The film is based on the Robert Harris novel of the same name. What starts as a routine ghost writing job becomes a search for the truth and a struggle to stay alive when secrets that should have stayed hidden are brought to life. The centre of the film is the title character, played by Ewan McGregor whose performance as the curious writer carries the film. Pierce Brosnan as Adam Lang echoes Tony Blair and there are more than a few moments where fiction is certainly imitating life, and not the other way around. We know that Brosnan and McGregor are capable of their roles and neither actor is particularly challenged in the film, although the chemistry between the two actors. The stand out performance has to be Olivia Williams as the wife of Adam Lang, who quietly suffered through her husband’s affair and professional woes until now, when enough seems, finally, to be enough.

The visual element of the film is what makes it; the bleak landscape of Martha’s Vineyard in winter echoing what is going on in the Lang’s relationship. Polanski makes clever use of the architecture of the house that all are holed up in, using it to reflect the sterility and coldness of the manuscript – which sends the ghost hunting for literary warmth, ending with his unearthing of some uncomfortable secrets.

The plot of the film is a decent thriller, but the ending is not one that is particularly surprising. Viewers able to connect the dots will reach the conclusion before the film does, and it is this that leaves the viewer strangely unsatisfied. If you want to see Polanski at his best, skip The Ghost and rent Rosemary’s Baby or Chinatown. If you want to see decent performances, clever cinematography and a plot that is not too challenging, then The Ghost is the film for you. The Ghost is worth a watch, but strangely formulaic and lacking from such a celebrated director.

Extras: The DVD contains precious few extra features. There are the obligatory cast and crew interviews, plus two short featurettes, one on the casting of the film and another that explores the close link between the film’s plot and reality. Enough to keep fans happy but not really enough to buy the DVD on alone.

Film: 3/5
Extras: 2/5

GS Reviewer: Brogen Hayes

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One comment

  1. Thanks for the thoughtful review, I will get this movie when it reaches the bargain basket.

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