Polanski was unexpectedly arrested and threatened with extradition to the United States while The Ghost Writer was in post production. The result was a surge of interest in the director’s work and a great deal of bated breath over the release of his latest movie. The main plot thread of the movie concerns a former British prime minister who is threatened with arrest and extradition to Europe resulting in a surge of interest and bated breath over the upcoming publication of his memoirs. A big enough coincidence to be getting on with, but just the first of many in what turns out to be 128 minutes of spooky film making.
Plot, acting, cinematography and all the usual things people go to movies to enjoy went rapidly out of the window as I became immersed in the game of spot-the-subtext.
“Are you aware we are just pawns in a fiendishly complex meta-text?”
About 15 minutes in Olivia Williams appears as the wife of the former British PM (Pierce Brosnan). Literally the day before I had been reading up on Radosław Sikorski for a Krakow Post article and discovered that he had lived in the UK for many years and been in a long-term relationship with… Olivia Williams. This is the Radosław Sikorski who’s a hot tip to become the next president of Poland, the same Poland that recently admitted hosting secret CIA rendition flights, the same rendition flights that feature as a major sub-plot in The Ghost Writer.
This is as much work as the ghost writer does in the entire film. I’m still waiting for my $250,000 payout for hanging around in a luxury villa.
I wouldn’t have worried about any of these things if the main thrust of the plot hadn’t turned out to be about seemingly irrelevant details hidden in the text of the memoirs the titular ghost writer has been hired to work on.
Then there are all the other oddities. Kim Cattrall appeared at some point and I completely failed to recognize her, despite having seen 900 episodes of Sex and the City, because she had an English accent. Then I remembered that she is English. It drove me mad that the main character played by Ewan McGregor wasn’t referred to by name (I always try to keep track of names in thrillers) until I realized it was deliberate, then I started constructing bizarre anagrams from the suspiciously alliterative names of other characters until the plot began to drift away from me. And what was going on in those sequences with the gardener engaged in Sisyphean leaf-sweeping? Surely that means something.
Bloody hell, it’s Kim Cattrall!
On a personal level the whole experience was made immeasurably weirder by the fact that the main character’s phone had exactly the same ring tone as my wife’s as well as the fact that, when the lights went up, I discovered we were completely unknowingly sat next to fellow Krakow Post columnist John Marshall.
The movie? It’s okay. The plot is about as feasible as a Communist revolution in Kensington but there’s enough of it to keep you going. If I was an actor who had played the part of any of the characters who died in this movie, however, I would be seriously worried at this point.