I know Roman Polanski did a despicable thing decades ago in L.A., and that despicable things were done to him in his lifetime before that (not an excuse, just a fact), and that he still may deserve some kind of punishment beyond the short time he spent in jail back then and the defensive exile he has imposed on himself to avoid any more jail time for these many years.
But damn, the man can make movies. THE GHOST WRITER has its flaws, there are plot points that are bothering me this morning (I saw it last night) and there were accents that seemed to move around the globe (Kim Catrell's British one and Pierce Brosnan's English one, as my friend Lisa D. remarked, his Irish was showing at times—but they each had moments of better-than-their-usual level of demonstrating their acting craft) but still...
why can't we make movies like this in the USA anymore? It not only had the tension and simplicity of focus of two of my favorite political thrillers—THE MANCHURIAN CANDIDATE (the original of course) and THREE DAYS OF THE CONDOR—but it also had their adult, even sophisticated political subject matter.
The thriller form kept the tension high and often had me squirming in my seat. That's the entertainment aspect that hopefully gets folks to see a movie like this. But the adult political subject matter just makes most "American" movies seem childish, at best. Where are the "American" movies dealing with the political shenanigans and worse, the death and destruction and impoverishment of the political dialogue in this country?
Yes, there have been some Iraq War movies that have had some serious political content, but the seriousness of the subject matter and the way it was handled kept most of them from being seen by many people. Whereas THE MANCHURIAN CANDIDATE and THREE DAYS OF THE CONDOR (the latter in particular since it was more directly contemporary with political events at the time) were genre pictures first, built to give audiences a ride, with the political discourse embedded in that like the peaks and valleys of a good roller coaster.
THE GHOST WRITER may not be as much of a classic as those, but it sure comes close. The direction is pretty much perfect— except for the slipping accents and a few early plot devices that felt like they weren't totally resolved—and the use of familiar movie faces—like Tim Hutton as the Brosnan character's (based on Tony Blair) American lawyer—with a lot of great moments for all the actors, even the bit players.
But the flick is almost stolen by Olivia Williams as the Prime Minister's wife (I first noticed her great talent in a much smaller role in last year's AN EDUCATION), with the help of Ewan McGregor whose acting is so brilliant I often forget how great he is (it's so realistic in unexpected ways in this flick I felt like I wanted to tell him sorry for taking his skill for granted so often).
Highly recommended if you haven't caught it yet.