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Generally favorable reviews- based on 181 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Negative: 23 out of 181

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  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...
  2. Lyn
    Aug 22, 2010
    I'm very surprised at the critics' adoration for this film, and can only assume it's because of their admiration for the director. Despite the excellent actors, there's virtually no suspense, and a twist at the end is one that you can see coming from 90 minutes away. And Kim Cattrall does perhaps the worst put-on British accent in film history!
  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.
  4. Aug 11, 2010
    In his day Roman Polanski was and still is one of cinema's top directors directing such revered classics such as "Nó w wodzie"( Knife in the Water) Polanski's directorial debut, "Repulsion"(1965), the noir classic "Chinatown"(1974), "Tess"(1979), "Frantic"(1988)," Cul-De- Sac"(1966), "Le Locataire" (The Tenant), "The Pianist"(2002) and "Oliver Twist"(2005). Over the last forty-eight years, Polanski has established himself as one of cinema's greatest and most controversial directors he has left an impression on Hollywood that will live on long after he has died and some will stand up and cheer when that day happens I might be one of them. There is no denying that Roman Polanski is a director of monumental skill he puts a certain flare and style to sometimes overused plot devices and stories making them viable daring pieces of filmmaking that surprisingly surpass anything Hollywood could possibly throw out of their shops. With his latest effort, "The Ghost Writerâ Expand
  5. Sep 16, 2010
    El más reciente filme del veterano Polanski es una de sus cintas más accesibles al gran público que ha hecho en toda su carrera -siempre y y cuando ese gran público, aclaro, no padezca de síndrome de atención y se empiece a quejar de que "todo va muy lento". La trama, sobre el bestseller homónimo de Robert Harris, es una pesimista extensión especular de la vida política del exPrimer Ministro británico Tony Blair aunque, para ser francos, las cuestiones políticas específicas es lo que menos le interesa a Polanski. Estamos ante un thriller profundamente desesperanzador con un memorable desenlace de guillotina y fuera de cuadro. Expand
  6. Sep 11, 2010
    Roman Palanski, being himself, after his years of not being seen for what shall not be named, I think this is one of his very successful movies that, even with the ending, was a four- star winner and exciting within every minute of the whole movie. The perfect combination of excitement, frightement, and cliff- hangers, even with the ending. Endings like that have been dissappointing me for years, but that movie is for sure, no doubt, positively, in my top 20 favorite movies of all time. If you haven't seen this movei, I reccomend it to all those people who love long movies, and can pay attention, but if you can't last longer than Zombieland- length, don't bother. Collapse
  7. Aug 28, 2010
    A well script base on the novel that selled and a direction mastered. The Ghost Writer is a thriller that will remind the audiences Hitchcock's films.
  8. Sep 2, 2010
    You have to admire this movie for what it is - it's slick, well-acted and relevant. It is generally well-scripted, but I'm amazed that fewer people have commented on the bizarre, nonsensical ending. I won't go into details, but it's simply implausible and the Ghost's actions aren't at all in keeping with his character. It was a frustrating way to end an otherwise gripping story. I do question the slightly glib and slanted politics, too, but to call it propaganda would be unfair, since it says more implicitly than explicitly about the modern world political climate. In terms of acting, Pierce is at his hilarious best as Adam Laing - his rant towards the end is near-perfect - while Ewan McGregor and Olivia Williams are perfectly competent. In short, very good but a big shame about the ending. Expand
  9. Sep 9, 2010
    Smartly written, very good soundtrack, spectacular performance by Olivia Williams, great twists and suspense. And great ending, but a bit predictable. Maybe not Polanski's best, but again one great thriller.
  10. Nov 1, 2010
    Yikes. Couldn't wait for this mess of a movie to end, to say nothing of my indifference as to how it would, after a great deal of tedium, end. The idea is paper (ha ha ha) thin, and certainly didn't warrant the 2+ hours worth of bad writing it took to complete this exercise in... I need a adjective for god awful crossed with paralytic boredom. Anyway, a hell of a lot of talent got wasted on this film. If there was a conspiracy it was on the part of the script writer, editor, and Polanski, to create wooden characters who people a sterile 2 dimensional world it is impossible to care about. The twist, when it finally does come, is paltry, and irrelevant, precisely because so little effort was put into creating a background against which the revelation might matter. And then the very end, when the car speeds by, and the papers come floating past the camera. All I could think is, "are you fuc*ing serious?" I think it's safe to say Mr. Polanski's best work was finished long long ago. Expand
  11. Nov 15, 2010
    The Ghost Writer is a film that sticks with you after a first viewing, and certainly encourages another viewing. I can think of few higher compliments than this. I'd forgotten how cool Ewan McGregor is, and Olivia Williams is smoldering in this film. However, the mysterious tension that makes this film great ultimately dissipates as the rather conventional plot is revealed. Basically, The Ghost Writer goes from **** to Clancy in a matter of minutes. A shame really, because the final scene is rather brilliant. Expand
  12. Dec 20, 2011
    I'm with Ebert on this one. A clever script with convincing acting on the whole, The Ghost Writer offers tension of the good and entertaining sort.

    Its moody locations (much of it was shot on location in Germany) is accompanied by a well-crafted soundtrack that befits the mystery encounters and places; this is one finely crafted suspense thriller with a surprise ending to boot.
  13. Dec 26, 2010
    A great political thriller that will pull the rug out from under you in its final scenes. It's also a return to form for Polanski, an extremely talented filmmaker, regardless of how you feel about his personal actions.
  14. Oct 17, 2010
    Very entertaining - perfect.
  15. Dec 30, 2010
    I was mesmorized by this film - very similar to **** in style. Even when the film slows down a bit, the atmosphere and cinematography grips you. I was never bored. This is Ewan McGregor's best performance since the underrated comedy "Down With Love". The ending was a little perplexing for me, but I still enjoyed it.
  16. Mar 18, 2011
    This review contains spoilers, click expand to view. I fell asleep several times during the movie, but so did the main character. What exactly was the plot ? I don't remember. If you have something to hide, why would you let someone into your house, and actually hire someone to sniff out your past ? Investigative journalism must have taken a turn for the worse when an amateur can simply use Google search to uncover the most secretive things of your past. Quite embarrassing, especially if you are the British Prime Minister. It's all right there, on the Internet.
    Things moved along, yes, but they moved along at the speed of sound in a vacuum. At one point, the main character shakes a tail, where did these guys learn to follow someone ?
    The ending was probably the most ridiculous one in movie history. I was in DC recently, and you can see the sniper on the roof of the White House from about 5 miles away. Security for the British PM must have forgotten that a guy in full camouflage, carrying a rifle and climbing onto the roof of the airport building might not be hunting for ducks.
    Wait, that was not really the end. The end was that the main character got hit by what, a car, a bus ? After surviving all sorts of dangerous situations, he simply gets run over in the middle of a big city ?
    In summary, this movie is just god awful. What is the purpose of making these films ?
  17. Nov 19, 2010
    While certainly not a masterpiece , this movie was very enjoyable for me . I knew nothing about it ahead of time so I had few expectations . A little more editing to pick up the pace would have been helpful but the cinematography was excellent . I quite enjoyed my afternoon with The Ghost Writer .
  18. Jan 8, 2011
    No this is not academy award material. This is just a fun movie with twist and turns. It is suspenseful and entertaining as it builds to the climax.
  19. Jan 11, 2011
    Good old, Roman Polanski. Known for his international film work and dark psychological tales, as well as some rather troubling personal issues, here he offers us a "Hitchcock-like" political thriller. The film follows a man hired to finish the auto-biography of a former Prime Minister after his predecessor mysteriously died. As he delves deeper into the past of the Prime Minister (Pierce Brosnan in a totally underwhelming performance), he questions more and more regarding the current political drama surrounding his employer.

    The film uses slow, methodical suspense rather than shock and action tactics. I suppose it works for some, but frankly it began to put me to sleep. I was still curious to know how the story would unfold and though mostly predictable there were a few unexpected twists. However, it was not able to grasp my attention as it felt more like I was just waiting to be told an answer vice learning or discovering it for myself.

    The acting performances also left something to be desired. Kim Cattrall never uses the same accent twice. Brosnan, as mentioned earlier, is nothing special and one-dimensional. McGregor, as the main character and ghost writer, gives it his best shot and probably nails what Polanski was asking from him. And so I blame the director more than anyone else. When all is said and done, The Ghost Writer just didn't inspire me, or surprise me, or entertain me, or invoke any feelings at all much less the suspense it aims for. The story is interesting enough but the presentation method is just so slow and draining that by the time it reached a conclusion I just didn't care anymore. If you're a fan of Hitchcock you may enjoy this. I never really was, and I didn't.
  20. Feb 4, 2011
    The movie was nice and interesting. I enjoyed the filmThe movie was nice and interesting. I enjoyed the filmThe movie was nice and interesting. I enjoyed the filmThe movie was nice and interesting. I enjoyed the film
  21. Apr 9, 2011
    Roman Polanski is one of the very best when it comes to directing a thriller. "The Ghost Writer" employs a simple yet wildly engaging plot that develops wonderfully around the main character. We see the ghost writer (McGregor) slowly unraveling the mystery of the film which ultimately puts him into a sheer state of paranoia that builds quite impressively thanks to the seamless direction of Polanski. Political thrillers often fail to engage their audience, but this one was downright mesmerizing. Solid performances from McGregor and Brosnan, but the real standout is Olivia Williams. This film earned a lot of attention in early 2010, but it seems to have faded as of late. It's sad because films like this don't come along all that often. One of the best of 2010. Expand
  22. May 10, 2011
    Roman Polanski has proven time and time again that he's one of the world's finest directors. With film-greats such as Chinatown, Rosemary's Baby, and the Pianist under his belt, how could anyone expect him - at the age of 78 - to crank out a movie that can stand up to many of the others in his filmography? That being said, The Ghost Writer really came out of left field; I hadn't even heard of it until it came and left theaters. All I knew was that it was a thriller directed and co-written by Roman Polanski, starred Ewan McGregor and Pierce Brosnan, and it had something to do with a political mystery. Ok, I was in. There are some really outstanding performances in this film, and that's extremely important in a movie like this: McGregor and Williams both do a terrific job, but it's Brosnan's performance that really stands out in this one. I'd have to say it's his best role yet. The writing is also very good, based on the "The Ghost" written by Robert Harris, you really feel like you're trying to uncover this mystery right along side The Ghost throughout the duration of this picture. But my favorite element in this movie has got to be the sets, which are often overlooked. The sets in this movie are simply incredible and they even become characters in their own right, most notably the film's primary location - Brosnan's rented beach house. When we first approach the house it looks like a fortress - guards pacing the building from the outside, grey concrete walls, secluded in the middle of nowhere. But once we see the inside it becomes a whole different thing; it's almost like a labyrinth bathed in a cold grey light from the outside where the weather is constantly either raining or on the verge of rain. These sets are subtle meaning and really help drive the points of this film home. I'm not saying that The Ghost Writer isn't without its flaws. The story does drag on a bit right around the middle of the second act, and it does leave you wishing there were a few more meaningful interactions between Brosnan and McGregor but all -in-all it's a pretty bullet-proof movie for those who can stomach a dialogue driven film with little to no action. Read the rest of the review on my film review site,, and check out our facebook page at Expand
  23. Jun 27, 2011
    The script is smart and suspenseful and the story is well developed.It's certainly not Polanski's best film but it still proves that he's a great director.The movie remains tense throughout and McGreggor's performance is very strong.
  24. Jun 7, 2011
    I've always believed that movie reviewers are desperate to be seen as cultured, intelligent, "I'm more insightful than you" types. Therefore, when they come across a movie like this - a movie that SEEMS like it should be good, has the look of something that should grab your attention, and, most important, sounds intelligent - they rave about it because their hubris prevents them from saying, "I don't get it!" This is not a great movie. I'll be honest in saying that I don't quite get the ending. I mean, I do, but was the "secret" really that significant? If you didn't figure this all out in the private jet scene, then perhaps you are a movie critic. It's sad too, because the cast should have been excellent. Pierce Brosnan generally has his moments, Ewan McGregor is often quite good, Olivia Williams has had a few brilliant roles, and Tom Wilkinson is, in my opinion, one of the great, under appreciated actors, ever. Conversely Kim Catrall may be one of the worst actors ever and this role only solidifies her in that position. But in this movie they were all as flat and dull as Catrall's "accent". IMO the only really good acting in this movie was that of Wilkinson and Eli Wallach. Regrettably, these two roles are little more than bit parts. The rest was so ho hum that I needed two nights to watch it. Expand
  25. Jun 16, 2011
    The Ghost Writer was a mediocre film that I felt still managed to entertain to an extent. Being the Ewan McGregor fan that I am, I found his performance to be favourable as always. I don't believe the film would engage at all if it weren't for an actor like Ewan. Politics is not normally an interest of mine, but the film's speculative atmosphere kept me from falling asleep or walking away as I may have otherwise. The sex scene was unwarranted and highly unrealistic in the situation it was portrayed in, so that would probably be one of the most notable of flaws. Otherwise, the film was a decent watch but not directly recommended. Expand
  26. Jun 7, 2012
    Let me start off by stating simply that I cannot compare THE GHOST WRITER to any of Roman Polanskiâ
  27. Aug 7, 2011
    You can't help but feel that Polanski is getting a raw deal here because of the past. Anyway, this was a decent thriller, but not the best, so ....7
    Also, gratuitous sex??? Go play with your dolly elsewhere. Leave the grownups be. American Pie, now THAT's gratuitous sex. Please take your sexual repression and your puritanical views somewhere else.
  28. Jul 17, 2012
    Despite it trying to look professional, the plot felt like a complete muddle of sorts. I've seen so many films where the people making a film try masquerading them in clever disguises that are easily see through. There was barely any depth and when it got to a good, intense moment, it suddenly jumped to something else. My favourite character though was the nameless Ghost Writer, who we see in possibly the most thrilling scene in the film. But, in the end, it was just pretty boring. Expand
  29. Feb 20, 2013
    Roman Polanski delivers a film that creates a thrilling story arc, one which we are not quite sure who to believe or who to trust, hence the reason that the suspense is built to perfection in this book adaption of 'The Ghost" (which the film was titled in the UK).
    Ewan McGregor plays the unnamed ghost writer in the film, the fact he is unnamed only came to my attention after a second
    viewing, and this was a clever technique indeed, simply because it never crossed my mind, and there is so much going on that it wasn't even mind-crossing. He has been asked to ghost write the memoirs of former British Prime Minister Adam Lang (Pierce Brosnan), after his previous writer was found dead of apparent suicide.
    As the new ghost land in the secluded island that Lang and his personnel are staying on, his hesitance to take on the job are apparent, as Lang and his unfinished memoirs are in lockdown, due to a 'threat of national security'. The ghost soon delves deeper as to what might be the cause of such security, but is under intense pressure as Lang is being accused of severe war crimes and must go for questioning. The characters created here are full of mystery and suspense, we are never quite sure of their motives and we are never quite sure who is in the wrong, the secluded setting perfectly captures the grim and deadly secrets that these people hold, only adding to the tension.
    Lang is a daring replica of former PM Tony Blair, and his air of smiles and "man" when he is around the ghost raises questions of is political prowess, which is later dug deeper.
    McGregor does an excellent job of portraying the sophisticated yet possibly cowardly ghost, I often asked myself throughout the film what exactly his character would do if he found anything incriminating. But his intelligence shines through as his dialogue is snappy and often sarcastic.
    Olivia Williams portrays Lang's wife Ruth, who he seemingly turns to in most of political endeavours for advice, she is a mixed bag of emotion, she's confrontational, bitter, but seems the upmost of loyal to her husband.
    Kim Cattrall also makes an appearance as Lang's personal assistant, but also her mistress by night, I'm not sure if she was trying a British accent in the film or a civilised American one, either way she played her part well.
    The Ghost Writer has all the makings of a classic thriller, especially with Polanski at the helm, it creates the perfect picture of thrill and suspense without relying on action and cheap tricks, which overall created a very pulsating, unforgettable, well acted and well written film.
  30. Dec 31, 2011
    Overwrought is the word that comes to mind about this movie. I wanted to like it. Heck, if Ebert gives it 100 out of 100 it better be good. There were times when the suspense was okay, but mostly it was just ... boring. For the first hour I thought that it might be a nice, minimalist thriller. Turns out, it was just a contrived, long, telegraphed snoozer.
  31. Jan 18, 2012
    It wasnt that bad of a film. Plot is decent enough to keep you interested but it never really gets to that next level of great suspensful movies. The acting is good. Its worth the watch imo but I am sure a few people may get bored with it.
  32. Sep 30, 2012
    A little slow paced at times but other then that it was a rather good film. Well acted, Suspensful, and definently worth watching imo. I liked it and would recommend it.
  33. Mar 10, 2012
    Sorry I'm late but I've just watched this on DVD. My wife read the book and said it was excellent, we're also fans of some of Ewan's work. BUT, an interesting story was massacred by poor production.

    Did anybody else notice the appallingly photoshopped pictures from the 70s?

    Then there was the accents!

    I could go on. Lovely house though.
  34. Mar 11, 2013
    Incredibly fine movie made by one of the few remaining Gods of contemporary film making. The Ghost Writer is a triumph of atmosphere.
  35. Oct 16, 2014
    Whether or not you may enjoy the film's ending, there's no denying that "The Ghost Writer" is still a tense, unpredictable thriller that acts as a testament to Roman Polanski's enduring ability to craft a good movie.
  36. Dec 8, 2012
    The Ghost Writer is one of those films that when I saw it, I simply felt it was good. I saw it in early March, and as more great films have been released, this film has always remained in my mind. I think it's very good as opposed to just okay. It's not brilliant, but it's still is a strong film and one of the better movies of the year. Very intense and it had some good performances. The ending really was a shocker to me....check this film out! Expand
  37. Aug 31, 2013
    One of the best political thrillers ever made. I really enjoyed it and I want to watch it again. Brilliant!!! Excellent!!! Perfection!!! Do not miss it!
  38. Apr 1, 2014
    Criminally ignored on its release, this is Polanski's best film since The Ninth Gate. Brosnan is pitch perfect as the Blairesque character and McGregor puts in one of his better efforts as the Ghost Writer of the title, but it is Olivia Williams that steals the show as the cold and manipulative wife to the fallen Prime Minister. Directed with clinical style by Polanski, this is a well thought out thriller and deserving of reappraisal. Expand
  39. Jun 18, 2014
    The Ghost Writer is a Polanski film, so i immediately knew it would be good. I also immediately knew that none of the scenes would be in the U.S. So, the only part of the movie i didn't care for was the unconvincing British island that doubled for Long Island. However, the acting is brilliant, the screenplay amazing, and the atmosphere very tense. The movie reveals one piece at a time until the climatic ending, and then a shocking twist that will stun you. See this movie. Expand
  40. Nov 29, 2013
    this movie makes a moment mysterious and thrilling.So,after the movie ends it gives a great thought.In my way it"s a very exited movie and curious-tic.
  41. Dec 8, 2013
    This review contains spoilers, click expand to view. I don't like these kinds of movies that leaves lots of questions unanswered but if you don't know this, then it's a good 2 hour movie that keeps you glued to your seat. Expand
  42. Jul 28, 2014
    Consistently heard negative reviews of this one, but was pleasantly surprised when I finally gave it a chance. THE GHOST WRITER had me guessing the entire way through and was an exciting ride. Admittedly, the style of the film is at times inconsistent - specifically I am thinking of the ending - this was my one criticism. The Northeastern backdrops and stylish hotel interiors helped to create a sophisticated, and, well, damn cool mood throughout. The production designer on this film deserved double whatever he was making. McGregor and Williams are especially great.

    Overall, Polanski's suspenseful THE GHOST WRITER is a solid 8/10.

Generally favorable reviews - based on 35 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 30 out of 35
  2. Negative: 0 out of 35
  1. 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.
  2. Reviewed by: Derek Elley
    What the picture most needed was a complete cinematic rethink and, yes, even some action to move it along.
  3. 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.