THE GHOST WRITER, This is one of the best modern political thriller I've came across in very long time. I mean it's one of those movies which leaves a lasting impression on you, as it has done with me. And though I was bit distracted by a phone call at the climax time, I so wanted to get back to finish it in one gulp, like a period wine, or just like those thick pacy thriller-spy novels which finds their place in the dusty dark corners of the library racks, away from the limelight of popular ones. Even the nature of story fits into this theme, a story about a writer who has to write as somebody else for money under deep surveillance & confidentiality.
Roman Polanski- The Director is a noted celebrity Director who has made movies like The Pianist, Oliver Twist, The Ninth Gate. I personally feel that he is not just obsessive about cinema, but he seems to be an avid reader also, it shows in his choice of subjects and movies. This Polanski's thriller is a must-watch for thriller-hungry seekers. I can easily compare the background score, screenplay and narration's intensity to the likes of 1965 Michael Caine-starrer, The Ipcress File or Tom Clancy's Jack Ryan espionage adventures. The movie have some allusions, starting from Adam Lang character inspired from Tony Blair, and other charachters inspired namely from the late Mr Robin Cook, former foreign Secretary to Tony Blair and Condoleeza Rice, United States Secretary of State. It faced criticism over these linkages, but how true the presentation of known facts is, you can't deny a bit. Yes, it tries to interpret the dark valleys of American-British alliance in their foreign policies.
It's a story about an unnamed ghost writer (Ewan McGregor) who gets hired on a new job of ghostwriting a memoir of former British Prime Minister Adam Lang (Pierce Brosnan). The job was to complete the half-done job left by his predecessor Mike McAra, a ghost-writer & great loyal of Adam Lang. Initially he was a bit reluctant to do it, after he gone through a rough mugging incident the day he gets a manuscript copy from the Publishing house. But then his agent-cum-friend Rick Ricardelli, who aligned him for this job, convinced him to go for the job on account of fat earnings from this. The Publishing company advanced Adam Lang about $10 million for his memoirs, and the ghost writer was set to make $2,50,000 for the job. So he willingly grasp the job even though he states to publisher that no body reads the Political memoirs including him.
Now he is flied to an oceanfront island estate in fictional American village Old Haven, where former Prime Minister Adam Lang was staying with his wife Ruth (Olivia Williams), his personal assistant-cum-mistress Amelia Bly (Kim Cattrall), along with the staff of servants and security personnel. Well, Pierce Brosnan looks as stunning as he always looks in his Bond movies. His charisma was matching his charachter & persona as Lang too. Now, here the film starts getting interesting with all the ingredients of suspense & obscurity. Initially the ghost writer has to stay at the deserted hotel in the island where he could not take down the original manuscript of the memoir. But he do conduct some sessions with Mr Lang to gauge into his earlier Cambridge life and his motivations to enter into the politics. Then he also meet some strange person in hotel bar who try to find his link with Mr Lang. But he maintained the distance with such distractions and tried to focus on the writing of a mammoth memoir he has to do in such a short notice. The timeline to finish the memoir also got curtailed to two weeks by the publisher office as they had some deadlines to met. On the other side of the world, Mr Richard Rycart, the former British foreign Secretary raised some serious allegations upon Mr Adam Lang for orchestrating illegal seizure of some suspected terrorists and handing them over to CIA for deadly torture, a possible war crime. Lang faced a threat of getting prosecuted by International Criminal Court, unless he stays in USA or goes to the country which doesn't follow this jurisdiction.
The Lang controversy brought herds of media people to the island along with protesting public all over the place. In the wake of the media storm, the ghost writer was shifted to the Lang residence for further stay to avoid media interventions. In a planned PR move, Lang with his assistant flew to Washington to meet top US official to show everything is normal. Back in the island, ghost writer had been shifted to Mike McAra's room, where he found an envelope, inside which the secretly hidden belongings of McAra was placed. There was a clear trail of Adam Lang's Cambridge linkages with some Paul Emmett in form of some old pictures and newspaper cuttings. The ghost writer became suspicious of Lang as he told him during his one of the briefings that a clueless young Lang was motivated to enter into the politics due to Ruth, his wife. But, a newspaper cutting showed that he joined the party 2 years before he met Ruth. Ghost writer thought that his predecessor might have stumbled into a dark secret related to Lang. He also find one strange phone number written behind one of the photograph, the call connected to Richard Rycart. He disconnected, and didn't picked the phone when Rycart called him back numerous times.
He took one bicycle from the residence and ventured into the other part of island to find the truth about McAra's death. He found out from one old man that there was something very mischievous about McAra's death. His knowledge of sea currents propelled him to doubt the place, a beach where the McAra's body was found after disappearing from the ferry, and he said that his neighbor has saw some flashlights in sea that day. After that she went into coma afterwards, falling from her stairs. On his ride back, he was intercepted by Ruth & her security guard who were in a look out to find him. Inside the car, Ruth acted strangely towards the ghost writer, clutching his hands in the car, he didn't protested thinking that she is feeling down after being neglected & abandon by Lang. He shared the findings from the island with Ruth on dinner. She said that McAra had a row with Lang before he left in a ferry and died. Then while weeping she uttered, " In what problem my husband has thrown himself ". She left to clear his head in the raining weather. Then she came back in midnight all wet, waking the ghost writer from his sleep. Then she slept with the writer that night.
In the morning, writer felt that he's becoming too involved with his subject and he left for the hotel. he picked a guest car from outside whose GPS was programmed by McAra on his last ride probably. He tried to follow the route to the hotel, but end up obeying the programmed car to the different route altogether, in far away Belmont estate off the island. It was the home of Mr Paul Emmett. Initially reluctant Emmett allowed him to enter after he insisted that he has some photographs of Emmett with Lang. In their brief encounter, Emmett maintained his stance that he had a brief acquaintance with Adam Lang during some stage performances. And that the wall photograph of him with Lang was a kind gesture by Lang to bless the Arcadia committee formed by Emmett. During their whole conversation, Emmett's wife was constantly talking to a third person on phone, describing about the ghost writer.
During his way back to island, he was followed by stranger car, but he escaped, and reached the ferry. But he found the same car persons in look out for him in ferry, he jumped back from the ferry misguiding them and then stayed at the motel near the docks. There in fear, he dialed the Rycart's number, and he asked him to stay where he was. Meanwhile, the writer did Google search for Lang & Paul Emmett connection, and found out that Emmett had been working for CIA as late as 1971 when he graduated from Yale University, the very same period when Lang decided to join the politics. Also he found out that apart from being Pulitzer-prize winning author & geopolitical affairs expert, Professor Emmett was connected to the military contractor Hatherton group through the Arcadia think tank. Rycart visited the motel with his men, and took him to his place, where ghost writer told everything he found about the Adam Lang. Rycart inferred that now the dots are connected, and he understood that Lang was acting as a pawn of CIA, and that's why Britain every decision were taken in favor of the United States. There writer also got to know that McAra gave him the information about Lang for his torture allegations. He told him that McAra didn't shared too much on phone, and he hinted that everything is there in the beginning of the manuscript. And finally he was murdered on his way back in ferry. Ghost writer received the call from Amelia Bly, the assistant of lang, finding his whereabouts. He was not willing to go back to the Wolf's den.
But Rycart asked him to go back in order to avoid any suspicion from lang's office. Lang came with his private jet to take him back to the island to complete the memoir work which was disturbed during the chaos. In the flight back, ghost writer told him everything he found about him on his insistence. Adam Lang was surprised & at the same time shocked to hear about McAra involvement and the negative claims of writer about himself. He shouted that he had always followed his mind, and in no way connected to CIA or terror thing. Infact, he would like to have two queues on airports. One with all the check and security, an one without all that, he pose a question to Rycarts of the world, which queue they'd like to sent their kids into. Writer felt convinced by his remarks and his intent, but it was too late, as when they landed, Lang was assassinated by British anti-war protester who lost his son in Iraq war. In return, Lang's men shot him down. Writer was taken as a prime witness by US authorities, and his passport was taken so that he'd to stay and can provide information.
Back in London, during the book launch party, Amelia tells him by accident that the order of manuscript not accessed by all people came from Americans, as the beginnings contained a threat to national security. There in the party he also saw Ruth with Paul Emmett. He asked Amelia about his presence in the party and she replied that he was Ruth's tutor when she was Fulbright scholar. He then realizes that the truth was laid in the beginning of each chapter of manuscript. And he connected the first word of every chapter, It comes out as a stark ling fact to him: "Lang's wife Ruth was recruited as a CIA Agent by Paul Emmett of Harvard University. " Ruth has shaped every Lang's decision to favor United States, as per the guidelines from CIA.
The writer pass on a note to Ruth in the gathering about the same, and then raise a toast like gesturing her that he knows the truth now. He then left from the party as she started chasing him. In the end, when he was crossing the road off-camera holding original manuscript in his hands, a car accelerates towards his direction. And then papers of the manuscripts came back flying as the sound of car-hitting him is heard by the passerby who gathered and ran in that direction.
And the mysterious soundtrack continues, with the manuscript papers flying all over the place.
And the mysterious soundtrack continues, with the manuscript papers flying all over the place.