The main character Adam Lang (Pierce Brosnan), may have a similar political history, be married to someone remarkably like Cherie Blair but no, this is not about Tony Blair.
This is perhaps a story about a very similar (the same) character as Tony Blair, an ex Prime minister being dragged kicking and screaming into a war crimes tribunal.
Adam Lang has written his autobiography for an advance of ten million pounds and yet despite being the size of the London telephone directory, is a cure for insomniacs everywhere.
Many famous figures use Ghost Writers and one becomes necessary in more ways than one, when the previous writing partner leaves his shiny BMW X5 on the car ferry, due to him being somewhat deceased and gently nudging the shoreline.
The Ghostwriter (MacGregor) is called to America to help out. Arriving at a rather odd futuristic beach house with requisite swirling mist outside and far more dangerous swirling eddies inside, everything is obviously not right, not right at all.
Based on the novel by Richard Harris, this follows the plot fairly closely but lacks the tension in the book and struggles to portray the obvious power and influence of the main character. Perhaps limited by budget, the production feels stage-bound with creaky dialogue more suited to an old London theatre than a modern cinematic thriller.
There is no feeling that anything is real, perhaps the point of the film but certainly not the novel.
Director Polanski presents the film in a workmanlike fashion, no neat camera angles or directorial flourishes and for a director with his name above the title, there is little to suggest his best work here.
The are some neat touches, a hastily written press release suddenly appearing on the news to the obvious delight and then concern of the Ghostwriter, who is never actually named in the film.
Brosnan plays Lang as suave, unrepentant and genuinely shocked at the turn of events, although he does not get as much screen time as you might expect or desire. Macgregor seems somewhat bland and lost, whether this is acting or him portraying a genuine concern for his motivation and part within the film is not clear.
Kim Cattrall as Lang’s “Executive assistant” adds to the murkiness, she appears perky and slightly unbelievable only being eclipsed by Olivia Williams, as Lang’s spurned and troubled wife, again seemingly motiveless for some of her actions.
Initially the film provides an interesting glimpse into the life of Lang following his resignation as Prime Minister. This is the most intriguing part, someone with power, private jets, the White House, the press hanging on every word, suddenly bereft of the baubles and symbols of power.
What does one do, “Special Envoy” sounds important with a few token bodyguards on offer and a convoy of two cars, but it’s is never quite the same.
Tom Wilkinson makes a welcome late appearance and even in a short scene, adds some much needed mystery and depth to the film.
Reverting to a more traditional suspense thriller in the latter half, the ending may surprise, certainly it appears quite abruptly, leaving a feeling of, “is that it?”
Incidentally, filmed in Germany and made to look like Martha’s Vineyard due to Polanski’s ongoing legal issues if he ever sets foot in the USA.
Not quite the sum of it’s parts, quite enjoyable but we could and should expect more of it’s famous director, Roman Polanski.
Entertaining and not without merit but the book is better