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The Ghost Writer (2010)

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A ghost writer, hired to complete the memoirs of a former British Prime Minister, uncovers secrets that put his own life in jeopardy.

Director:

Roman Polanski

Writers:

Robert Harris (screenplay), Roman Polanski (screenplay) | 1 more credit »
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Popularity
3,249 ( 19)
33 wins & 54 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Ewan McGregor ... The Ghost
Jon Bernthal ... Rick Ricardelli
Tim Preece Tim Preece ... Roy
Jim Belushi ... John Maddox (as James Belushi)
Timothy Hutton ... Sidney Kroll
Anna Botting Anna Botting ... SKY TV Newsreader
Yvonne Tomlinson Yvonne Tomlinson ... Stewardess
Milton Welsh ... Taxi Driver
Alister Mazzotti Alister Mazzotti ... Protection Officer #1
Tim Faraday ... Barry
Kim Cattrall ... Amelia Bly
Kate Copeland Kate Copeland ... Alice
Soogi Kang Soogi Kang ... Dep
Lee Hong Thay Lee Hong Thay ... Duc
Olivia Williams ... Ruth Lang
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Storyline

An unremarkable ghost-writer has landed a lucrative contract to redact the memoirs of Adam Lang, the former UK Prime Minister. After dominating British politics for years, Lang has retired with his wife to the USA. He lives on an island, in luxurious, isolated premises complete with a security detail and a secretarial staff. Soon, Adam Lang gets embroiled in a major scandal with international ramifications that reveals how far he was ready to go in order to nurture UK's "special relationship" with the USA. But before this controversy has started, before even he has closed the deal with the publisher, the ghost-writer gets unmistakable signs that the turgid draft he is tasked to put into shape inexplicably constitutes highly sensitive material. Written by Eduardo Casais <casaise@acm.org>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

Read between the lies.


Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG-13 for language, brief nudity/sexuality, some violence and a drug reference | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Official Sites:

Official Facebook

Country:

France | Germany | UK

Language:

English

Release Date:

19 March 2010 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Ghost Writer See more »

Filming Locations:

Berlin, Germany See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$45,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$183,009, 21 February 2010

Gross USA:

$15,541,549

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$60,222,298
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

DTS | Dolby Digital | SDDS

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Writer Robert Harris is a former BBC television reporter and political columnist, who actively supported Tony Blair, until the Iraq War, which Harris felt was a mistake. Blair resigned June 26, 2007, spurring Harris to drop his other work to write "The Ghost", the novel, on which this movie is based, which was published September 26. Similarities between Blair and Adam Lang, Cherie Blair and Ruth Lang, Hatherton and Halliburton, et cetera, are clearly intentional. Mo Asumang appears briefly as a Condoleezza Rice look-a-like Secretary of State, in a photo op with Lang. See more »

Goofs

The Ghost uses a PC when he interviews Lang, but later when he uses the Internet, the search buttons and and the mouse cursor have a "Mac-like" appearance. While the Windows version of Safari has the same buttons and the cursors on a PC can be changed, it is highly unlikely. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
The Ghost: You realize I know nothing about politics.
Rick Ricardelli: You voted for him, didn't you?
The Ghost: Adam Lang? Of course I did, everyone voted for him. He wasn't a politician, he was a craze.
See more »

Crazy Credits

The title appears as highlighted words on pages of the scattered manuscript. See more »

Alternate Versions

US version was cut for language to secure a PG-13 rating (the usage of the words "fuck" and "shit" was severely toned down). See more »

Connections

Referenced in Hjelp, vi er i filmbransjen (2011) See more »

Soundtracks

Marcia Funebre
Allegro Assai from Beethoven's Symphony No. 3
Written by Ludwig van Beethoven
Performed by Symphony Nova Scotia
Conducted by Georg Tintner
Courtesy of Naxos of America, Inc.
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more »

User Reviews

 
Old-fashioned noir, beautifully crafted for modern audiences
1 May 2010 | by Chris_DockerSee all my reviews

The Ghost is the story of a ghost writer who wins an assignment to tidy up the memoirs of a recently ex British Prime Minister to turn them into a best seller. It's set in the United States, and revolves around unproven accusations of allowing suspected terrorists to be extradited and tortured. The previous ghost writer has been found dead.

I found this a tense thriller with the added attraction of that pointed economy of execution for which Europeanised Hollywood (of which Polanski must be one of the leading exponents) is famed. As was often the case with Hitchcock, the story, camera framing, and a sense of mounting anticipation, produce more suspense than any amount of car chases, expensive stunts, intrusive music or grandstanding of stars.

Polanski's choice of stars is interesting, particularly as the two lead parts Pierce Brosnan (as former Prime Minister, Adam Lang) and Ewan McGregor (as the ghost) are known more for their 'star-appeal' performances than any detailed character acting. Yet they are perfectly cast, both for their on screen personas and for the space given them to develop. When Brosnan comes alive in sudden fits of rage (almost recalling Frank Langella in Frost/Nixon) we become more aware of his considerable strength as an actor, allowing the character – deliberately something of a stereotype – to shine through. The ploy is somewhat less successful though with Kim Cattrall, who seems forever in her Sex and the City persona. or Tom Wilkinson, who sadly seems to have just been wheeled in just to read lines from a supporting role. A less recognisable face in the formidable array of stars is Olivia Williams (Miss Stubbs in An Education, and also making a return in the new series of Dollhouse). So when Williams, as Lang's wife Ruth, shows unexpected fire and passion we are taken by surprise – without any of the voyeuristic appeal of watching Ewan McGregor bare his bottom – as he, or his double, does quite readily.

The Ghost can be watched on two levels. Firstly it can be enjoyed as a straightforward thriller of a traditional sort. Aimed at modern audiences, it has plenty of sudden shocks but less twists and turns than, say, Chinatown. Even the ending has been simplified from the original script, which would have given a further meaning to the title and the whole film: but at the risk of being perhaps a little too clever.

But for those who want to draw unsettling comparisons, there is a fairly heavy-handed likeness to accusations about Tony Blair's complicity in what have been termed war crimes. And as Adam Lang, ensconced on an island off the east coast of America, far from the reach of the International Court of Justice (to which America does not subscribe), is pulled deeper into the plot of conspiracy theorists, another reading is easy to find: Polanski's own isolation for alleged crimes committed many years ago. For those that want to follow such parallels, there is a US Secretary of State that looks worrying like Condoleezza Rice. And when Lang refuses an invitation to go to London for fear of arrest, it might possibly recall Polanski's comment, "The last time I went to a festival to get a prize I ended up in jail." The Ghost is a beautifully 'hand-crafted' film, almost belonging to the age of noir, when characters were shadows and revelations exposed with dramatic force rather than loud bangs. Perhaps not as flashy as masterpieces such as Chinatown or Rosemary's Baby, The Ghost is still a welcome addition of quality and sleek design when the market for such dramas is swamped with bad stories and cluttered execution.


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