Sunday, April 04, 2010

BuboBlog Reviews 'The Ghost Writer'

I'm sure I really disappointed my Czech fans this weekend. I had a chance to see "Clash of the Titans" and provide a review; instead, we went to "The Ghost Writer." Apparently Kelly wasn't impressed with the 31 percent Rotten Tomatoes rating assigned to "Clash." (She also doesn't seem to care that my site is a noted resource for "Clash of the Titans" news among Czechs.)

With that said, I enjoyed "The Ghost Writer." It was one of those intense, yet slowly paced thrillers that hark back to the 1970s. The twist is pretty easy to predict, and I found the ending a bit flat. But frankly, that's also a hallmark of 1970s thrillers (watch the end of "French Connection" and it's like, "Oh, I guess the movie is over now.").

The film is mostly set on Martha's Vineyard, though it was actually shot on the German island of Sylt. The director, Roman Polanski, is a fugitive from U.S. prosecution, so filming on location wasn't an option. Oddly enough, the movie is about a former prime minister who uses the United States as a sanctuary from international law. (Since I'm sure others have noted this irony, I won't dwell on it.) I was surprised in some ways by how much Sylt looked like a Northeastern U.S. island, though it actually seemed a bit more like Southampton than Martha's Vineyard. I found it harder to suspend disbelief when the main character (played by Ewan McGregor) travels to Belmont, Mass., where my aunt and uncle live. Belmont looks much more rural in "The Ghost Writer" than in real life. Maybe they should have just made up a town name.

One plot point hinges on a batch of old photographs that McGregor's character finds of the former prime minster (played by Pierce Brosnan). The photos show a young Brosnan, and they were so poorly Photoshopped that I was sure it was going to be addressed by the film. But no, they just needed to get a better prop department.

Another quibble: Kim Cattrall's terrible British accent. I'm not sure why they didn't just make her character American. Or perhaps come up with a backstory where she suffered a blunt head trauma and couldn't speak properly. Meanwhile, Sir Tom Wilkinson plays an American. You wonder why they didn't just switch places.

As I remarked earlier, there is little to no writing going on in "The Ghost Writer." At the end of the film, the main character (who is never named) merely thinks about writing the book and then we cut to a shot of it spinning off the printing presses (books spinning off printing presses — another cinematic device that hasn't been used since the 1970s).

BuboBlog Rating: 3 asterisks (out of 4).