The Ghost Writer (2010)

Rated PG-13. Our ratings: V- 1, L- 3, S/N-4. Running time: 2 hours 9 min.

For all who do evil hate the light and do not
come to the light, so that their deeds may not
be exposed.
John 3:20

The Prime Minister and the Ghost.

2010 Summit Entertainment

In this unsettling tale Ewan McGregor plays the ghostwriter of the title, hired to replace a man who died under mysterious circumstances. Identified only as “the Ghost,” our protagonist is selected by the pub lisher of a memoir that former British Prime Minister Adam Lang (Pierce Brosnan) has been working on. The Ghost’s biggest asset in the publisher’s eyes is that he works fast. The firm has invested a huge advance in Lang, so they understandably are anxious to get the manuscript in publishable form.

After Lang’s approval, the Ghost travels to a lodge on Martha’s Vineyard with the former PM and his wife Ruth (Olivia Williams). Also a member of the party is the efficient administrative assistant Amelia (Kim Cattrall), who apparently with Mrs. Lang’s knowledge has more than a professional relationship with her boss. The weather is mostly like those that begin with “It was a dark and stormy night…” The Ghost stumbles upon some hidden papers that his predecessor had gathered, which leads him to suspect that the man’s death by drowning was not an accident or suicide. Meanwhile Lang is charged by an international tribunal of war crimes. Should he return to England, he would be arrested and turned over to stand trial. Trying to follow the trail of the dead “ghost,” our Ghost comes upon Paul Emmett (Tom Wilkinson), once involved with Lang. Matters grow more and more murkier, ending with a jolt that might make one wonder about whether or not this is a just universe.

For Reflection/Discussion

Spoiler at the end.

1. What is the over-all mood of this film? How did you feel about the characters?

2. What political implications for our own national leaders’ conduct during the Iraq War do you see? What about the statement that the among the only nations in which Lang could not be arrested in and brought to trial are North Korea and the USA? Why is this so?

3. How did you feel at the film’s ending? How is what the Ghost did just before the conclusion the only source for hope? Similar to the happier ending of Three Days of the Condor?