The Ghost Writer

Saw The Ghost Writer last night. A perfectly fine little neo-noir genre film (I found myself the only one in the theater chuckling at the clichés Polanski uses like the creaky hotel sign swaying in the gale during a strong rainstorm not to mention the tonal use of a torrential, windy storm itself during the 2nd act) that demonstrates that he still has the ability to create some serious cinematic tension almost 50 years after his wonderful, teeth-grittingly restrained debut. Olivia Williams is quite strong as the half-estranged and politically astute wife of an embattled Tony Blair stand-in trying to both write his $10 million memoir and not end up in The Hague. I can’t help but lump this film in with Shutter Island in many ways: the late career genre pieces, stormy island locations, government secrets and the attendant and palpable paranoia. Set on Martha’s Vineyard but shot largely in Germany (due to Polanski’s well-known legal issues), keep an eye out for a quick out-door cut-away shot of Provincetown center’s Lewis Brothers Ice Cream store about 2/3 of the way in. I think somebody needs to let Polanski know that if you were to go biking in a rainstorm on Martha’s Vineyard in January you’d need more than just a wool hat!

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