The Ghost Writer

THRILLER; 2hr 8min

STARRING: Ewan McGregor, Pierce Brosnan, Kim Cattrall, Olivia Williams

The plot thickens: from left, Brosnan and McGregor

When a publisher shells out a six-figure fee for a month’s work ghost-writing the memoir of a former British prime minister (Brosnan as Adam Lang), there’s more than likely to be a catch or two. The first one is that the original ghostie accidentally drowned. The second is that his unnamed replacement (McGregor) knows zip about politics. The third is that Lang is holed up in rain-swept isolation on an island off America’s eastern seaboard. And the fourth is that with work on the manuscript barely underway, Lang is accused of war crimes.


Based on Robert Harris’s 2008 novel, The Ghost Writer bubbles with undercurrent questions. What really happened to the original memoirist? How deep and tight are the ties between Lang and his crisply knowing assistant-slash-mistress (Cattrall)? How long will his resentful, unhappy wife (Williams) take the strain? It’s a juicy, classy tale slippery with twists, and director Roman Polanski has a fine time at the wheel. As the regular guy at the nexus of the mystery, McGregor keeps his cool throughout, a particularly British way to play it when the murky fur is flying.