Film Review: The Ghost

Director: Roman Polanski

Starring: Ewan McGregor, Pierce Brosnan, Kim Cattrall

In cinemas: 16 April

For some unknown reason the powers that be determined that while American audiences get the perfectly acceptable title The Ghost Writer, us Europeans were going to have to make do with the undeniably stupider title The Ghost. Sure, it’s the name of the source material, but as soon as you put that name into movieland all your brain can think is “Patrick Swayze!” repeated again and again in your mind until you pass out from dehydration. But no, this is no sequel or remake of the Swayze classic (RIP, my friend), it is instead the latest political thriller from prison-held Roman Polanski.

The story follows an unnamed ghost writer (Ewan McGregor) who has been hired to finish off the memoirs of ex-Prime Minister (Pierce Brosnan), the previous ghost writer dying under somewhat mysterious circumstances. As McGregor is scribbling away the ex-Prime Minister gets involved with a more serious scandal, McGregor gets in over his head and had to escape with his life.

While Ewan McGregor is good it’s Pierce Brosnan who does a great job playing a clueless yet confident politician; he’s genuinely difficult to read meaning you’re double guessing him throughout. Sex and the City’s Kim Cattrell also makes an appearance as the PM’s secretary – and clearly the English-born actress has been spending too much time in New York, as she now has some weird hybrid accent.

There is a nice sense of intrigue throughout the whole thing and, mainly due to McGregor’s likability, you actually become caught up in his discoveries. If it all sounds very Hitchcock, that’s because it is… well, slightly worse Hitchcock with some unexplained implausibility and, at times, questionable pacing. Also, the plot seems to get lost within itself, at one stage awkwardly introducing a wise old man for three minutes to explain all the complicated parts.

While the majority of the film potters along quite well with a nice sense of imminent danger and suspense, there are most definitely parts that edge on dull, not surprising for a film based around rewriting a political memoir.  If you can put up with some slow pacing during the two hour running time this is a nicely satisfying thriller. Also, for all you

In a nutshell: Polanski fans, this may be the last thing you see from him in a while so savour it. My money’s on his next feature being prison based.

Conor Barry