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Review: The Ghost Writer

Competent but dull
By PETER KEOUGH  |  March 2, 2010
2.5 2.5 Stars

How odd that the two latest films by two of the world's greatest living filmmakers should be adaptations of bestsellers set on islands off the coast of Massachusetts. And that both should be disappointing.

Like Martin Scorsese's Shutter Island, Roman Polanski's adaptation of Robert Harris's The Ghost opens with a ferry crossing (metaphor alert) backed by stentorian music on the soundtrack. This boat is en route to Martha's Vineyard, where a former British prime minister (Pierce Brosnan) resides in seclusion — the World Court has indicted him for war crimes, so he can't leave the island or he'll be arrested.

Thus, the hack of the title (Ewan McGregor) joins him there to ghost his memoirs, only to uncover compromising material while doing research. The dreary-looking proceedings are competent but dull — which is surprising given the connections to Polanski's own predicament (not to mention Tony Blair's). In other words, it's no Chinatown.

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