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Movie Curiosities

The online diary of an aspiring movie nerd

The Ghost Writer

ByCuriosity Inc.

Mar 6, 2010

This movie was beautifully shot, quickly paced, perfectly cast and superbly acted. The score was damned good, the comedy relief was very effective and the tension was always thick.

I hated it.

This is a rare case when the storytelling is masterful, but the story itself is wretched. You may already know that Ewan McGregor plays the ghost writer for Pierce Brosnan’s shady former UK Prime Minister. What you may not know is that Brosnan is under a self-imposed exile in the US, since he’s being brought up on war crimes, his own country is selling him out and the Hague’s jurisdiction isn’t recognized in the States. I know that a filmmaker’s personal life shouldn’t necessarily play a part in examining a film, but it’s like Polanski is just asking for this and it reflects very poorly on him and on the film.

I’m loathe to give any explicit spoilers, but I will say that the ending plays like a stiff middle finger. You know the monologue at the end of every mystery thriller that explains how all the clues fit together? Here, that monologue happens off-screen. On the one hand, it’s a refreshing change of pace that invites the audience to piece everything together on its own. On the other hand, it totally robs the movie of any immediate closure. But really, that’s just a nitpick.

My real problem with the ending is that it establishes the theme of the entire movie: That there is a conspiracy, the military contractors and governments are in bed together and that any resistance is futile. There is no escape, there is no fighting back, there is no hope. It’s been noted that Ewan McGregor’s character is never given a name, which fits nicely into his “ghost” persona. However, it also establishes McGregor — the movie’s principal investigator, remember — as a faceless, nameless nobody whose actions are easily ignored and entirely without consequence.

This movie is masterfully made, but it’s so paranoid, pessimistic, absurd and bleak. It’s an easy movie to admire, but an extremely difficult movie to love.

By Curiosity Inc.

I hold a B.S. in Bioinformatics, the only one from Pacific University's Class of '09. I was the stage-hand-in-chief of my high school drama department and I'm a bass drummer for the Last Regiment of Syncopated Drummers. I dabble in video games and I'm still pretty good at DDR. My primary hobby is going online for upcoming movie news. I am a movie buff, a movie nerd, whatever you want to call it. Comic books are another hobby, but I'm not talking about Superman or Spider-Man or those books that number in the triple-digits. I'm talking about Watchmen, Preacher, Sandman, etc. Self-contained, dramatic, intellectual stories that couldn't be accomplished in any other medium. I'm a proud son of Oregon, born and raised here. I've been just about everywhere in North and Central America and I love it right here.

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