The Ghost is one of the best films of the year. This will resonate more with a British audience who were disappointed by Blair after he seemingly sold us out to the Americans for reasons the public are still split. Its politics are thuddingly preposterous but it still excels as a masterwork in the suspense-thriller genre.
Our hero, The Ghost (Ewan McGregor) is hired to re-write the political memoirs of former British Prime Minister, Adam Lang (Pierce Brosnan). He travels to an island retreat on the east coast of America where the Prime Minister and his wife, Ruth Lang (Olivia Williams), are holed up in a mansion with their staff. As The Ghost continues to research, write and interview he discovers unsettling truths that certain forces want covered up, all the while, a media storm around Adam Lang is building and tensions with his wife are developing.
Roman Polanski always manages to capture the seedier edge of life and always shows a darker edge to reality and it is the same here. Every encounter has menacing undertones that blister into reality and there are dark forces at work.
The atmosphere is Hitchcockian and enthrals in its use of location and character and conjuring of dark forces. The entire atmosphere is chilled. The mansion is a spook house, all echoes and hidden tensions. The characters all have different layers to them and the more the Ghost researches the more sinister they become.
The final half ramps up the tension with a brilliant series of set pieces. Keep your eyes and ears open because at the end, like me, you’ll probably groan with realisation at the clever ending.
Ewan McGregor gives a great performance and English accent. Cautious yet wry, he displays opportunism, wit and intelligence. Pierce Brosnan is good, managing to avoid being too Blair but it is Olivia Williams who steals the show.
Oh my word, she was the best thing in Dollhouse and she is the best thing here. Olivia Williams is the highlight of this film – beautiful, deep, vulnerable and mysterious. Someone incredibly intelligent yet thwarted by events. They might be based on the Blairs’ but Pierce Brosnan and Olivia Williams make much more compelling and sexy characters.
As far as the politics goes, the general British sense of being sacrificed to American machinations is there but the most interesting point is when Adam Lang has a short rant establishing that he genuinely believed in the idea of defending the west from terrorism. This is something that many critics of Blair seem incapable of accepting, always preferring to paint him as a monster as opposed to a man who followed his moral conscience. This inability has marred British media analysis of Blair and if there was more of this analysis then the film would be more than a thumpingly great thriller with brilliant performances.