The Ghost Writer

Rated 5.0

The title character in this new thriller directed by Roman Polanski is a ghost in several senses of the word. He’s ghost-writing the memoirs of an exiled politician and former prime minister of Great Britain, and that’s the initial setup for what becomes a fascinatingly convoluted thriller plot. But as that plot unfolds, he also finds himself behaving like the ghost of the mysteriously deceased writer who preceded him on the memoir project. And eventually, as the suspenseful complications begin to multiply, you can’t help but feel that this unnamed scribe (played with wily craft by Ewan McGregor) is becoming a kind of ghost in his own story and life. I mention all this at the outset as a way of suggesting that Polanski’s The Ghost Writer, for all of its current-events subtext, is pre-eminently a character-based thriller and a genuinely haunting one at that. The reverberations from international politics in the Iraq War period add to the immediacy and impact of the film, but they’re not the main point. While the thriller plot may be what grabs you initially, it’s the unraveling of corruption and self-deception in a half dozen or so smartly delineated characters that makes you glad you stayed to see it through. Pageant Theatre and Paradise Cinema 7. Rated PG-13