In Polanski's 'The Ghost Writer,' Echoes of Hitchcock


Summit Entertainment

This is a good old spy story that we haven't seen the likes of for many years. Because it involves mostly English characters, my mind wandered back to Alfred Hitchcock's 1935 film, The 39 Steps.

The Ghost Writer was directed by Roman Polanski who is now rotting away in his chalet under house arrest in Switzerland where he lives. He awaits a decision from a Swiss court on whether or not he will be extradited back to the United States to be punished for his admitted rape of a child so many years ago before he fled to France. The film, which includes beautiful and expensive sets on Martha's Vineyard and in London, does not suffer from arthritis. It moves at a riveting pace, and the performances of all the principal characters are excellent.

The Ghostwriter (Ewan McGregor) becomes a detective while hunting down the facts that will permit him to edit a manuscript and, hopefully, turn it into a bestseller. The book is based on the life of a fictitious former Prime Minister, Adam Lang (Pierce Brosnan), modeled on the life of Tony Blair. The script is an attack on Blair because of his closeness to George W. Bush and America. Blair is hated by the more radical left in Britain, and he was recently called to testify by a Parliamentary commission investigating Britain's support of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. His enemies referred to him—unfairly, I believe—as Bush's lapdog.

Amelia Bly (Kim Cattrall) is Lang's assistant. Regrettably, her role does not include her famed sensuality portrayed in Sex and the City. The brainy and sexy character in the film is Lang's wife, Ruth (Olivia Williams), and Paul (Tom Wilkinson) is one of his classmates from their university days.

The dialogue and suspense created by director Polanski are first rate. You will enjoy this film.