The Ghost Writer

March 19th, 2010


The Ghost Writer

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Still of Roman Polanski in The Ghost WriterStill of Ewan McGregor and Roman Polanski in The Ghost WriterCarol Alt at event of The Ghost WriterStill of Ewan McGregor in The Ghost WriterStill of Ewan McGregor in The Ghost WriterStill of Pierce Brosnan and Ewan McGregor in The Ghost Writer

A ghostwriter hired to complete the memoirs of a former British prime minister uncovers secrets that put his own life in jeopardy.

Release Year: 2010

Rating: 7.4/10 (63,312 voted)

Critic's Score: 77/100

Director: Roman Polanski

Stars: Ewan McGregor, Pierce Brosnan, Olivia Williams

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.

Writers: Robert Harris, Roman Polanski

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

Taglines: Read between the lies.


Official Website: Official site | Official site [France] |

Release Date: 19 March 2010

Filming Locations: Berlin, Germany

Box Office Details

Budget: $45,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend: $183,009 (USA) (21 February 2010) (4 Screens)

Gross: $73,741,549 (Worldwide) (6 May 2011)

Technical Specs


Did You Know?

Lang's beach house set was built entirely in a studio. The Cape Cod views through the windows were the result of green screens.

Continuity: In the middle of the movie the Ghost underlines all instances of "Ruth" in the manuscript. Later in the movie he underlines various words including "Ruth" which now has no underlining.

[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.

User Review

Has Polanski made the perfect movie?

Rating: 10/10

The key word here is suspense, the perfect blend of a director at the peak of his powers, a script that beautifully works with a source without diluting its essence or compromising its subject matter, and with a timing so perfect that no false note is hit, enrapturing its audience, never letting go, pushing its limits as the audience awaits its incredible resolution.

McGregor plays a hired writer who comes in to assist Lang (Brossnan) in the publication of his memoirs. Timing couldn't get worse as an unexpected complication ensues and many people's lives and reputations are suddenly in danger. As the film reaches its conclusion, with tensions and levels of paranoia reaching unheard limits, it's got our attention, and it has earned every bit of it.

The quality of the writing is impressive, with no false moves, no red herrings, no unnecessary distractions, no manipulations to sway you one way or another. What we have is a mix of intrigue, action, Shakespearean drama, and performers who might never be this good again. Polanski channels Hitchcock at his best, using Desplat's driving score (himself channeling Herrman), and just when it all could have been a tribute, it soars above its inspiration.

Among so many impressive elements, one has to mention the note perfect and outstanding Olivia Williams, an actress that has moved on from being physically alluring to developing acting talents which could rank her with Streep and Close because of her impeccable and powerful turn. Here is a woman who hardly resorts to gimmicks, but takes the most normal of situations and weaves a wave of intrigue that would leave you breathless.

"The Ghost Writer" is a mystery, a thriller, a tribute to the masters who inspired the genre and might even surpass all those sources of inspiration. The film mixes politics with an old fashion thrills and makes us wonder why Hollywood hasn't made movies like this more often. It's early in the year, but it's going to be hard to find anything that can even come close to this movie, a film that is as perfect as anything any director has ever put together, Hitchcock included.


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