Review of the movie The Ghost Writer, starring Pierce Brosnan and Ewan McGregor

I recorded the movie The Ghost Writer on my Tivo a few days ago on the off-chance that it might be a watchable movie, heaven knows there are so few of them these days. I have just viewed it and although I am still ambivalent about Ewan McGregor as an actor. I found myself rather glued to the plot.

McGregor was his usual vaguely cheerful and pragmatic self in the part of The Ghost, although I do tend to see a youthful version of Obi Wan Kenobi whenever I see him in anything, he’s one of those actors who sort of blends into a part after a while, which is probably a good thing.  He plays a writer who is hired to ‘ghost’ the memoirs of a former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, a man called Adam Lang; the previous ghost-writer having turned up as dead as a doornail and as wet as a drowned rat on the coast of the island off the mainland of the east coast of America where Adam Lang is living. We are left to suppose that he was on the ferry and someone pushed him off. The movie begins with his body being washed up on the beach and the car left on the ferry.

Pierce Brosnan was surprisingly good at being an ex PM and Kim Cattrall was even more surprisingly good as his assistant and, as hinted by various comments by the wife, obviously something a bit more than that as well.

What struck me most of all was the similarity of Lang’s imaginary career to that of Tony Blair, the so called Peacemaker of the Middle East, that’s after he destroyed Iraq of course and dragged us as a nation into a war none of the people of Britain wanted, nor were we asked whether we wanted it.

All in all the movie was extraordinarily good. After visiting Lang at his rather isolated, windswept heavily guarded and very utilitarian home on the island in order to take up where his unfortunate predecessor left off,  poor old McGregor begins to realise that there is more to the situation than meets the eye; a realisation that is confirmed by the announcement that Lang is about to be tried by the International Court for infringements of human rights. Events go downhill rapidly after that and soon the poor ghost-writer is caught up in the same sinister series of happenings that led to the demise of the previous ghost-writer.

Lang is accused of being a war criminal and the situation is complicated by the fact that the British government announce that they will do all they can to support the courts rather than stand up for the former Prime Minister. With nowhere to run to where they won’t immediately arrest him, he ends up looking like nothing more than a satellite of the US administration who appear, on the surface at least, to be the only people who will stand up for him. His marriage is falling apart and the ghost-writer finds some very incriminating evidence on Lang left behind by the dead ghost-writer. He decides to do some investigating for himself  and rapidly comes to the conclusion that his life is very much in danger; there are nasty, ruthless people out there who don’t want these memoirs published and will stop at nothing to prevent it.

The situation is further complicated by the fact that one of the protesters against Lang is the father of a soldier who was killed in the ‘illegal war’ and he is camped out right outside the Lang compound. After that the events roll out to their inevitable ending… the ending you realise at the beginning of the movie is just going to happen, but you just don’t expect it when it does.

I won’t go into any more of the story in case anyone wants to watch the movie, but it was actually very played down as far as publicising is concerned and I can see why. The screenwriters did a good job of making the viewer realise that there are cogs and wheels within wheels in politics and that far from government officials, security services and the actual government not knowing what the left hand is doing, it becomes disturbingly clear that in fact they do all know what the others are doing and are often hand in glove when it comes to making sure the public who pay their salaries know absolutely nothing.

I worked for a little while in intelligence and I got to see first-hand what kind of people choose it as a career and most of them are so twisted that they screw their socks on in the morning.

What a world we have created for ourselves and how the makers of Ghost got away with making the movie is astonishing. The whole thing was a creepily similar version of Tony Blair’s life, except for the fate of the movie version of Blair, but I sat and predicted that right through the movie.

The final scene shows everyone who knew Lang and who hated and feared him applauding the speeches given by his grieving wife about how wonderful he was and you are left with the uncomfortable feeling that everyone who chooses to have anything to do with power and politics is twisted to hell and gone and the biggest hypocrites in the entire universe, which of course, they are. The Ghost is present at it and at the end he is shown leaving the building and trying to get a taxi in a dreary, wet and rainy London street with the file with the memoirs under his arm. I leave it to you to guess what happens next.

All in all a good watch and a very disturbing movie.

The Ghost Writer (film)

The Ghost Writer (film) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

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