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New Zealand International Film Festival

July to November NZ wide | TVNZ

The Ghost Writer: Film Festival

The Ghost Writer

France/Germany/UK 2009, 126m
Director: Roman Polanski
Festivals: Berlin 2010
Best Director, Berlin Film Festival 2010

"Why did Tony Blair, in his ten years as Prime Minister, do exactly what the White House wanted on so many occasions?

That's the juicy question buried in the depths of Roman Polanski's The Ghost Writer, an extraordinarily precise and well-made political thriller - the best thing Polanski has done since the seventies, when he brought out the incomparable Chinatown& The Ghost Writer offers not the blood and terror of Polanski's early work but the steady pleasures of high intelligence and unmatchable craftsmanship - bristling, hyper-articulate dialogue and a stunning over-all design that has been color-coordinated to the point of aesthetic mania. Working with the British writer Robert Harris, whose 2007 novel, The Ghost, serves as the basis of the movie, Polanski fed the political material - troubling stuff about rendition and CIA collaboration - into the mazy convolutions of a neo-Hitchcock story.

He presents the entire movie from the restricted point of view of a likable young man, a hard-drinking, cash-poor writer (Ewan McGregor), who has been hired to finish the memoirs of Adam Lang (Pierce Brosnan), a former Prime Minister clearly modelled on Blair. The writer, who is known in the credits as 'the Ghost' (he is never named - the P.M. calls him "man"), is not the first to work at this job. The previous ghostwriter has been found dead on a beach in Martha's Vineyard, near the house of Lang's publisher, where the P.M. and his entourage have gathered to work on the book. The Ghost is in trouble from the beginning, and he knows it, but he needs money and self-respect, and he forges on..." - David Denby, New Yorker