In the interview with Polanski on the DVD for The Ghost Writer, he says he is “making films for grown ups” and we are fortunate that there are still a few filmmakers around who do not pander to juvenile mentalities. Watching this film is almost like reading a book because of the richness of detail. Polanski was careful to stick close to the novel by Robert Harris with whom he collaborated on the screenplay. Harris admits the influence of the films of Alfred Hitchcock had in the writing of the novel especially in the plot device of an ordinary man being thrust into a dangerous situation. There is also a touch of Raymond Chandler as “The Ghost” tries to unravel the mysterious death of his predecessor. The beautiful score by Alexandre Desplat does just what a score should do: it supports what is happening in the story without calling attention to itself. Desplat avoids the cliches used by other composers and even the suspenseful moments are subtly scored. Add to that an ensemble of first rate actors and The Ghost Writer becomes a work of art.
Olivia Williams who plays The Prime Minister’s Wife in The Ghost Writer, is truly superb in a seemingly easy, but difficult role. Everyone in the film plays his or her role to perfection, down to the smallest character part. Terrific screenplay here folks and Roman Polanski showing us he’s not finished with the art of making films yet, expert craftsmanship shown by him. If you have ‘an ear’ for film music, LISTEN…to Alexandre Desplat’s brilliantly sinister score – full of dread and apprehension, I feel he’s tipping his hat in the direction of musical great Bernard Herrmann’s legacy. For those here who think it was ‘slow’ and they fell asleep, well what can I say? When people are used to helicopter chases and big explosions every 3 minutes, they should try using their intelligence and their brains to THINK.
The Ghost Writer is a dense, multilayered and hypnotically watchable film containing a very surprising end or should I say ‘ends’? (also watch the extra suppliments afterwards, Polanski describes the beach-house from the film in great detail…and this house is to a large part one of the characters in the film!)
A great thriller with a great cast, The Ghost Writer is marred only by a logical flaw in the final minutes, where the hero does something completely bone-headed and unbelievably stupid. It’s so out of character for him, and so blatantly done for dramatic effect, that it prevents this from being a perfect movie. Even some great directors can’t seem to avoid using cheap, predictable Hollywood gimmicks.