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The Ghost Writer

Political thriller about the dangerous world of memoirs

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A ghostwriter (Ewan McGregor) is chosen to quickly finish up the former British prime minister's memoirs, just as a potentially damaging inquiry about the PM's role during the Iraq war is unfolding. Thus, there's high security and super-secrecy as the ghostwriter is sequestered on a Massachusetts island with his subject (Pierce Brosnan) and a curiously flat manuscript. Complicating the job are the PM's angry wife (Olivia Williams) and the mysterious death of the previous ghostwriter.

Roman Polanski's thriller is gray in tone and palette, and at times as misty and slow-moving as the ever-present seaside clouds. The action is primarily confined to pointed conversations and conveniently uncovered secret objects. It's all mildly atmospheric and easily decoded: the PM's glass house of secrets, the handyman sweeping up trash to no avail, the nameless ghostwriter.

Thus while attractively filmed and well-acted (as well as one expects with such pot-boiler material), the film's length and slowness eventually undermine the intrigue. Indeed, the longer the "mystery" went on, the more illogical the story was revealed to be. I'm partial to political thrillers, so I continued to follow along in the artificially created murk, but it felt like a slow walk to a destination I had spotted an hour earlier. Cinemark Robinson, Manor

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