To continue the reviews of movies I love yet hesitate to explain why:
I love thrillers. I really do. Agatha Christie's mysteries started this obsession, but it eventually progressed to ludicrous online minute-mysteries, the Gladdy Gold mysteries by Rita Lakin, and pulp novels from the 50s and 60s. Sure, many of them are ludicrous, but if the ride is a good one, I'm willing to go with it. Indeed, as long as the author makes a commitment as far as crazy goes, everything's Jake. And if you manage it with a winking sophistication, all the better.
The Ghost Writer is like that. It's an intriguing little thriller, in which a ghost writer (Ewan McGregor) is assigned to finish the memoirs of a former Prime Minister (Pierce Brosnan). This all comes during a war crimes investigation against the PM, and right after the first ghost writer has mysteriously drowned. That's all I can really say about the film, for the rest of it is filled with twists and turns.
Now, is it a ludicrous film? Of course it is! It's what you imagine to yourself while reading a dime novel in the back of a used bookstore! Everything supports this, from Alexandre Desplat's score to the stylized performances. But it's fun, and it never takes itself too seriously. The ending genuinely packs a punch. Hell, I knew what would happen by the forty-minute mark, and I was still on the edge of my seat! It's exciting and thrilling, and that last shot! As Sophia Petrillo said: "If this [amazing final shot from The Ghost Writer] were a person, I'd get naked and make love to it!"
I haven't seen a lot of Polanski. I'm "meh" on The Ninth Gate, though I love Chinatown; I couldn't get through The Fearless Vampire Killers, and I don't understand the love for The Pianist at all. Of course, now that I've seen The Ghost Writer, I'm going to have to delve into his work, for I think it's a masterpiece. It's political without being preachy, entertaining without being brainless, ridiculous without being self-parody. In the first four months of this year, I have seen one disaster after another, yet somehow this and Shutter Island managed to sneak in and give me quality, suspense, characters I can actually cheer on or detest!
Standouts include Tom Wilkinson and Olivia Williams, the latter finding her way into the one to beat from the first four months. We'll see what the rest of 2010: Part One has to offer, but Lord she's magnificent in this movie.
Walter, you must see "Rosemary's Baby" if you haven't already done so. A superbly controlled exercise in suspense, wickedly funny too, my pick as Polanski's greatest.
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