The Ghost Writer
Can I just say that Roman Polanski is a weird guy. After all these years, he’s kept his absurdist humour from “Rosemary’s Baby” alive within his new effort, “The Ghost Writer.” Little idiosyncrasies like a bulky security guard following bitter ex-politician’s wife Ruth Lang (Olivia Williams) and her husband’s ghost writer (Ewan McGregor), Ruth’s husband ex-Prime Minister Adam Lang’s (Pierce Brosnan) highly anticipated best-selling 600 plus page memoir that begins with a mind numbing multi-generational family history, half of what Amelia Bly (Kim Catrall) says. A lot of the movie was weird enough to twist my face a hundred times. The Ghost putting himself into his situation makes him just like every other man and woman in Polanski films who get themselves into inescapable situations.
“The Ghost Writer,” while convoluted, is still a text that deserves erudition. Typical of Polanski’s movies, technology, transportation and social institutions both help and hinder the main character and is well incorporated with Polanksi’s unique humour. The film opens with an empty car found in a ferry and later showing a body washed ashore, the ferry being a good way to trap oneself to death. The Ghostwriter’s predecessor’s manuscript and USB key has been locked in some advanced security system, getting injured when he tries to break into it. He uses Google to find links about a conspiracy his boss is a part of. Instead of an SUV, he rides a bike to investigate the death of the Ghost’s predecessor, only for the bike to have a rough start in his boss’s gravel path. He eventually uses a GPS equipped BMW (this movie is product placement heavy, by the way) whose instructions unexpectedly lead him to another secretive co-conspirator, Professor Paul Emmett (Tom Wilkinson).
The characters in Polanski’s former movies, however, have this need to hang to dear life. The ones in “The Ghost Writer” doesn’t. Sure, the Ghost finds out Lang’s secrets, therefore putting his life in danger. I can’t pinpoint yet why the urgency in the other movies is absent in this one. Maybe the secret was too big, especially since there were too many people involved in it. Maybe that the Ghost got himself into his situation was because of money, making him unsympathetic. Still not sure.
Nevermind that I saw this at the AMC, but there’s also this glossy digital look to the film, especially at the seaside motel scene, where the red lighting was just so stylized. Must have had to do with the constructed sets since he can’t access the real thing.
I don’t want to talk about the humour again, but it’s what makes me treasure the movie after the fact even if I didn’t fully enjoy it while I was watching it. I would have enjoyed it more if I didn’t feel like I stayed in the playground too long. Just like Polanski.
P.s. It’s been floating around forever that Polanski’s gonna direct God of Carnage. I read the play a while ago. The play has a part when a woman pukes. Of course Polanski’s gonna direct.