There was a “clash of the titans” this weekend. No, Sam Worthington or Louis Leterrier are not implicated in any way. Instead cinema giants Martin Scorsese and Roman Polanski simultaneously released their latest films.
Both Scorsese’s “Shutter Island” and Polanski’s “The Ghost Writer” present a unrestrained side to these creative geniuses, but whereas “Shutter Island” succeeds in being a showcase for Scorsese’s hidden talents, Polanski’s by-the-numbers political thriller is one of his most forgettable and is boosted only by Ewan McGregor’s brilliant performance.
In “The Ghost Writer,” McGregor plays the unnamed successor to a former British prime minister’s ghostwriter following his predecessors mysterious death. Shamed by accusations of war crimes and forced out of politics, Adam Lang (Pierce Brosnan) retreated into an island mansion where The Ghost travels in order to complete Lang’s memoir. However, nothing goes according to plan as The Ghost uncovers a massive political scandal and puts his life on the line in the process.
It’s definitely an intriguing set-up and likable cameos by Jim Belushi as a money-grubbing book publisher and Timothy Hutton as Lang’s lawyer add some comedic spice to the first act, but like a poor novel, the film quickly deviates from the engrossing into the mundane.
“The Ghost Writer” does pick up in some portions before running out of steam again, but these scattered scenes simply cannot save the film from being a bore. Into the end of the first act, we are introduced to Ruth, Lang’s lover, who is played by a wooden Olivia Williams. This over-complicates the plot with an uninteresting and irrelevant sexual escapade with The Ghost.
Luckily McGregor’s performance is likable enough to make watching “The Ghost Writer” less of a chore. His character, though unnamed, does not lack personality and spouts grin-inducing sarcastic comments and even through the seemingly implausible plot, The Ghost is a believable character that’s easy to root for.
An ironic and ultimately foreseeable ending marks the final chapter for “The Ghost Writer.” Though it’s introduction is nothing less of less enthralling, it quickly turns into psuedo-intelligent political thriller. Polanski may have turned a B-premise into a A-picture with “Rosemary’s Baby,” but he does quite the opposite with his latest and most irrelevant film.
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