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Wednesday, June 15, 2011

"The Ghost Writer", failed political thriller by Polanski

The Ghost Writer

An unknown writer is offered to write the memories of the former UK Prime Minister, just when he is accused of war crimes. Wow, for a while, it seems we are in front of a heavily loaded subject, miles away from the usual thriller territory. For a while.

Polanski starts "The Ghost Writer", based on the homonimus novel, with this promising subject and really suggestive atmosphere built around the place, the isolated island where Lang (Pierce Brosnan) lives and works with her wife and office staff, a sophisticated, high-class home that seems also a dungeon, where reclusion was also part of the goal. In that scenario, the ghost-writer (Ewan McGregor) has to re-write the unfinished memories of the ex-prime minister. But when the announcement from the International Criminal Court arrives announcing the investigation of the former politician, we enter into another dimension, another level. Unfortunately, the amazing potential of that premise steadily evolves into a more conventional thriller.

Because Polanski decides he is not interested in the political story anymore, just when we were more excited about how far he was willing to go in the obvious parallelisms with real former UK primer minister Tony Blair (how interesting, also necessary if you ask me, would have been seeing a fictional trial when the responsibles for war crimes in the name of the war against terrorism are judged), but what he offers us instead is a disappointing thriller, for several reasons.

The first one is that Ewan McGregor's character is really hard to believe. The whole issue (the plot) is so high-profile that is completely unbelievable than after 3 days of work he is able/allowed to get into the super-secret, deep meaning of the whole affair, even more so if his predecessor suspiciously died when he was doing these ghost-writing task. Besides, when his own life is on jeopardy, he keeps behaving in a surprisingly careless way, a struggling contradiction considering he is so meaningless in the grand scheme of things the plot has turned into. Many minor scenes (won't spoil anything), when something is revealed, a clue is founded, or some connection is discovered, are just failed attempts to let the movie flow, with poor and unrealistic results.And linked directly with that, is the second disappointment. A ridiculous, laughable, end.

Third one. I already said that Polanski decides the war crimes sub-plot is irrelevant, sadly, but the CIA sub-plot connected (google?, that's pathetic) with the personal relation taking place on the film (no spoiling again) is pretty weak, and again unbelievable, giving you the feeling the real reason of it was just for the sake of including a sexual encounter on it.

And fourth one.With so many misfires, the movie has little dynamism, and gets tiring. Overall, "The Ghost Writer" is not a total failure, I could even say that as a thriller you can forget about after watching, is a satisfaying entertainment. But after proposing so much with its initial argument, is a serious let down, with several moments on the verge to stupidity (close to his horrendous film "The Ninth Gate"). At least it compares well to the PM he is referring to. The expectations on Tony Blair's mandate were high, so was the level of disappointment after his shameful term ended.

SCORE: 4,25/10

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