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Monday, 7 February 2011

The Ghost (2010)

An hour and a half into The Ghost (or The Ghost Writer, depending on where you're watching it) I was ready to switch the movie off and move on to something that wasn't such a slow-burner. But I didn't. I'd heard okay things about the film and - just like with books - think it's unfair to give up once you're locked in. I'm so glad I stuck with it.

The film follows Ewan McGregor's character, an unnamed ghost-writer hired to complete the memoirs of controversial ex-UK Prime Minister Adam Lang, who is "hiding away" in his New York retreat after being accused of war crimes. Lang's previous ghost-writer died in a tragic drunken accident and his successor has only 2 weeks to make the changes and complete the book. As the Ghost digs deeper into Lang's past - starting with his early years as an actor when he was at Cambridge - he uncovers a number of discrepancies in the story of Lang's political beginnings. 

So what begins as a very quick way of making an awful lot of money suddenly becomes an obsession that takes the Ghost further out of his depth than he ever thought he could be. Too quickly he discovers that even the most open and telling memoirs have gaping holes within.

It's a slow movie. It's not a race-to-the-finish, but a level and beautifully understated piece of film that some may see as badly acted. There are a few duff performances - not least from Sex And The City star Kim Cattrall (is that an English accent? Or American? South African, maybe?!) - but once you get past those (and you will) then this is a surreal and claustrophobic conspiracy thriller which will have you not only on the edge of your seat but bouncing on it. As the story ticks closer and closer to what seems a routine close the suspense it upped ten-fold and the final ten minutes, where the pieces fall into place properly, are some of the most tense scenes I have ever witnessed on film. And as for the last 30 seconds: I yelled "no!" at my TV.

The Ghost is far from a perfect movie, but on a drizzly Monday afternoon it has not only held my attention but left me with a big grin on my face as well. McGregor is great as the anonymous "hero" and Brosnan oozes smarmy charisma as the not-at-all-meant-to-be-Tony-Blair ex-PM. A proper old-fashioned suspense movie, see this if you can.