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Friday, June 28, 2013

Friday Flicks: The Ghost Writer

A weekly review of a book to film adaptation.

Former Prime Minister Adam Lang (Pierce Brosnan) runs into difficulties as he attempts to complete his memoirs. His longtime aid turned ghost writer, died in an apparent accident. The publishers scramble to bring in a replacement, as to avoid any delays in publication. Enter Ewan McGregor as the unnamed replacement author, who is tasked with finishing the memoirs in a reduced time-frame, despite his inexperience in writing "political" memoirs.

Due to Lang's scheduled speaking engagements, McGregor's character travels to the small town on Martha's Vineyard where Lang and his entourage are staying. As he begins reading the draft of his predecessor, he is bored by the writing, and realizes that he will have to start the narrative from scratch. During his interviews with Lang, he begins to suspect the Prime Minister of withholding some of the crucial facts from his past. He also begins to question the mysterious death of his predecessor.

Lang's entire team is soon caught off guard by the accusation by his former Foreign Secretary of authorizing the illegal seizure of accused terrorist to be handed over to the American CIA for torture and questioning. This forces Lang to refocus his energy from the memoirs to repairing his reputation and defending himself against the politically harmful accusations.

Of course, controversy sells. It is no surprise then that the publisher requests the memoirs be completed within the coming weeks instead of the original time frame. As the Ghost Writer investigates further into the life of Adam Lang, he begins to uncover inconsistencies in his claims. There are connections between Lang and an American professor (Tom Wilkinson) who is rumored to have worked for the CIA. As the Ghost Writer delves deeper into the life of Adam Lang, his is thrust into a conspiracy that spans nearly four decades. In the end, he must discover the truth behind the lies of Adam Lang before his meets the fate of his predecessor.

The film is based upon the novel The Ghost by author Robert Harris, who also co-authored the screenplay with the film's director, Roman Polanski. This is a taut thriller, with quick pacing, genuine characters, and a twist ending that you won't see coming. The entire film feels cold and disconcerting, in thanks largely to the production design, cinematography, and minimal score. The plot generally stays faithful to that of the fantastic novel, echoing the political allusions to actual Prime Minister Tony Blair and his controversial relationship with the United States. This is a first rate thriller and possibly one of my favorite book to film adaptations.

Have you read the novel or seen the movie? If so, what did you think of it? What book adaptations would you like to see as a future Friday Flicks post?

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