Generally favorable reviews - based on 35 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 30 out of 35
  2. Negative: 0 out of 35
  1. 100
    This movie is the work of a man who knows how to direct a thriller. Smooth, calm, confident, it builds suspense instead of depending on shock and action.
  2. Here's another thought: This old man who can't leave the house has just made the first important film of 2010.
  3. 100
    The Ghost Writer is the kind of impeccable adult entertainment, able to alternate edge-of-your-seat episodes with bleakly comic moments, that Hitchcock used to specialize in and that Polanski himself realized so successfully in "Chinatown" and "Rosemary's Baby."
  4. Reviewed by: John Anderson
    The Ghost Writer is so rich you may feel you paid too little for your ticket when the whole thing meets its very Polanski-ish climax. Please don't tell anyone.
  5. Reviewed by: Dana Stevens
    The Ghost Writer is a triumph: elegant, accomplished, and (this is the hardest part to admit) occasionally even wise.
  6. 90
    An extraordinarily precise and well-made political thriller--the best thing Polanski has done since the seventies, when he brought out the incomparable “Chinatown” and the very fine “Tess.”
  7. 88
    All credit to a finely tuned Brosnan for packing so much intensity and wayward wit into his scenes with McGregor. Their verbal duels make for a dazzling game of cat-and-mouse.
  8. Polanski turns a conventional conspiracy thriller into a triumph of tone, ensemble playing and atmospheric menace.
  9. Satisfying, melancholy political suspense story.
  10. 83
    Ferrific fun and rousing proof that there’s still vital life in an aging master filmmaker.
  11. 83
    If he made The Ghost Writer under a pseudonym, it might be roundly hailed as the classy white-knuckler it is. But it's Polanski's name above the title, with his own ghosts haunting each frame.
  12. 83
    The Ghost Writer may not go down as one of Polanski’s masterpieces, but if it does end up being his swan song, it’s the ideal denouement to a life and career of unsettling resonance.
  13. The Ghost Writer is minor Polanski but it’s one of the rare thrillers these days that plays up to you instead of down.
  14. Polanski builds suspense slowly, exquisitely. It's not a matter of shocking the audience, although there are surprises, but of creating an ever-growing sense of dread.
  15. Polanski has made a genre piece with a verve and vitality that’s in sadly short supply.
  16. 80
    The result is a tight, taut, witty and highly theatrical entertainment, shot in shades of wintry gray, that will keep you guessing right through its final fadeout.
  17. Mr. Polanski’s work with his performers is consistently subtle even when the performances seem anything but, which is true of this very fine film from welcome start to finish.
  18. The Ghost Writer hasn’t the complexity or breadth of such stunners as "Chinatown" or "The Pianist," but it is nevertheless a solidly built little roundelay of intrigue with a veracity that seems torn from newspaper headlines.
  19. Loaded with Hitchcockian hugger-mugger, this is a genre Polanski clearly revels in.
  20. Reviewed by: Claudia Puig
    Marked by clever twists and turns, the story unfolds at just the right pace. The dialogue -- adapted by Polanski and British writer Robert Harris from Harris' novel The Ghost-- is incisive and interspersed with wit.
  21. 75
    Offers an unusually astute glimpse of power at its most alluring and corrosive.
  22. Reviewed by: Ty Burr
    In Polanski’s hands, it’s an unholy pleasure: a diversion that stings.
  23. 75
    As with most political thrillers, The Ghost Writer emphasizes plot development and atmosphere over action. It's an "adult" thriller as opposed to one designed for viewers suffering from ADD.
  24. As an exercise in craft, it's surprisingly successful, thanks to the strong cast and the vivid depiction of a modern leader's security apparatus. But as a political statement or personal drama, The Ghost Writer is nearly invisible.
  25. 70
    If it is possible to watch this work as a movie rather than using it as a referendum on its maker’s guilt or innocence, the audience that craves mature, sophisticated and grown-up entertainment will find much to admire here.
  26. Reviewed by: Nicolas Rapold
    Saved by often delightfully bitchy British dialogue.
  27. Reviewed by: Richard Corliss
    We should hail a movie that recalls creepy political thrillers of the mid-'70s, back when some films were made for grownups and the comfortable catharsis of a happy ending was not required -- think of the panoramically cryptic worldview of "The Parallax View" and "Three Days of the Condor," and of course, "Chinatown."
  28. 70
    This is a polished, palatable intrigue, with a knockout performance from Olivia Williams as the PM's hardened wife and a highly persuasive one from Kim Cattrall, cast against type as his buttoned-up personal assistant. But the mystery is unraveled a bit too conveniently.
  29. 63
    It’s not one of Polanski’s masterpieces, but The Ghost Writer doesn’t dilute his reputation as a master of suspense.
  30. Has moments of heart-pounding suspense and brief glimmers of greatness, thanks to fine performances by Ewan McGregor, Pierce Brosnan and Olivia Williams, but overall feels uneven, sprawling and strangely incomplete.
  31. This is a slicker, shallower exercise. It's hypnotic as it unfolds, but once the credit roll frees you from its grip, it doesn't bear close scrutiny.
  32. Despite the packed plot adapted by Polanski and Robert Harris from Harris' novel -- the pacing feels oddly slack.
  33. 50
    Although the movie is reasonably suspenseful for a while and has a few witty moments (of a first draft, the ghost says, "All the words are there. They're just in the wrong order"), it rings false.
  34. The result is a political thriller refreshingly long on grown-up dialogue yet lamentably shy on, well, thrills. This chatty thing does go on.
  35. Reviewed by: Derek Elley
    What the picture most needed was a complete cinematic rethink and, yes, even some action to move it along.
User Score

Generally favorable reviews- based on 177 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 57 out of 78
  2. Negative: 16 out of 78
  1. Sep 27, 2011
    Roman Polanski uses "The Ghost Writer" to show that he's still not old, and he perfectly demonstrates his abilities to the audience. He leads the movie with smooth direction and even has the capacity to add humor in such tense situations. Man, I do like this guy... Full Review »
  2. StephenS
    Feb 27, 2010
    Clearly the reviewers and I did not see the same movie. The writing was contrived and plot-driven. The audience was laughing out loud at scenes that were supposed to be tense. There was so much implausibility here. Then when the wife of the prime minister jumps into bed with MacGregor, the audience fell out of their chair. This is a weak movie. Could someone please tell me I'm not crazy? thank you. Full Review »
  3. Jan 19, 2011
    It's not the best Polanski I've seen (the most unsettling for me is still The Tenant) but it is still a Polanski, very political - smashing over plausibility to make a point - very critical, dark and thrilling. Loved it. Full Review »