The Ghost (in the US The Ghost Writer) proves that it is still possible to produce grown-up mainstream films. Ewan McGregor can act (why does he take so many crap roles when he doesn’t need to?), Olivia Williams is electric and on a technical level this is the best-made film I’ve seen in a long time.
The most often quoted reference is North By Northwest and it’s not hard to see why. McGregor is no Cary Grant but he has a similar mix of naivete, charm and base cunning (though not enough in the end). The score by Alexandre Desplat is very Hitchcockian (Herrmannian?) and the photography by Pawel Edelman is particularly good. The script is terrific – especially delivered by performers of this standard directed by Polanski. I was surprised at just how witty the film was – I laughed more than in most so-called comedies.
The negative critics of this film are completely at sea. There is no point attacking the ‘seriousness’ of the plot. In a thriller like this, realism is not really an issue. The entertainment depends on the performances, camerawork, editing, music and design – and a director who knows what to do. I hope Martin Scorsese watches it and reflects on Shutter Island. A 4-2 win for Polanski I think.