Based on a terrific book by Richard Harris, The Ghost Writer is an exercise in European thriller plotting and cinematography, even though most of it takes place on Cape Cod here in the United States. Directed by the great - and troubling - Roman Polanski, it has a pace that turned off many filmgoers, unfolding slowly and occasionally with the feel of a stage play, but I really liked it quite a bit.
The story revolves around former British Prime Minister Adam Lang (well played by Pierce Brosnan) who is borrowing his publisher's Cape Cod estate to write his memoirs. As is common with these sort of politico memoirs, Rhinehart Publishing hired a ghost writer, a professional who can turn notes and reminiscences into a coherent, readable and engaging narrative. Problem is, the ghost writer has died in rather mysterious circumstances.
Enter frustrated writer Ewan McGregor, who upon being asked by the publisher why he would be a good choice for the replacement ghost writer, explains that he brings nothing to the project. But it's that very lack of bias, of agenda, that lands him the job, and a cherry job it is, with a paycheck of $250,000 for a month's worth of work.
The film unfolds gradually and it's one of a small number of thrillers where a second viewing will reveal much more about the story progression (another example: The Spanish Prisoner). I really enjoyed The Ghost Writer and felt that the visuals, the acting and the windswept setting all contributed to an unsettling but intriguing cinematic experience.