Here's the deal: a recently retired British Prime Minister played by Pierce Brosnan (and yes, you're supposed to think Tony Blair) is writing his memoirs and his ghost-writer and former aide drowns. His publishers quickly rope in a replacement (played by Euan MacGregor) who is shipped off to the USA to the publisher's beach house to join the ex-PM and finish the book. What seems like a straightforward task becomes somewhat problematic as the new ghost-writer discovers hints of unpleasantness about the ex-PM and his old ghost-writer's demise. And meantime the attention of the world's media is focused on the ex-PM as a possible prosecution for war crimes looms.
The unease begins early and builds relentlessly. The beach house is in a gated compound in Cape Cod or somewhere similar and it's winter - the sky stays ominously gray all film. There are no leaves on the trees. The house's decor is black and gray and the art is gloomy. Dark-clothed staff hover or drive about in dark-coloured cars. There's ominous music. In contrast, Euan Macgregor's character seems a very ordinary bloke, not given to flights of fancy and not above putting his head in his hands and groaning when confronted with the ex-PM's prose. So when he gets spooked, the feelings of apprehension are infectious and believable.
The Ghost Writer is a rip-snorter of a thriller which will keep you thoroughly diverted for the two hours involved. It's stylish to look at and the plot, while it has a few holes, is on the whole pretty tight. The ending is a surprise, which is how it should be. Seeing Kim Cattrall as the ex-PM's assistant is an added reason to go.
Anne's rating 4.5/5 Ian's rating 4/5