I was going to start this review with a warning about never going to review a film on an Orange Wednesday as the theatre was absolutely packed and full of noisy chatter before the movie began – but the whole audience was totally gripped and silent from start to finish.
To elaborate, this is a controversial, topical political conspiracy thriller, directed by Roman Polanski and starring Ewan MacGregor and Pierce Brosnan. MacGregor plays a ghost-writer who is employed to write the memoirs of the British ex-Prime Minister, Adam Lane, played by Brosnan, who is currently living on a remote, isolated island in America, surrounded by top-level security. The previous ghost writer has recently drowned, in an apparent accident that we quickly realise was highly suspicious. Yes, of course the new ghost writer has his hesitations, but a £250K cheque for one month’s work soon soothes his troubled mind – for a while, until he too uncovers the discrepancies and clues left behind by his predecessor and begins to unravel what really is a top of the range political conspiracy thriller.
The theme is topical, not just because politics is currently hot news with the general election looming, but also because for Lane, you can read Blair. For his politically superior but less charismatic wife, you can read Cherie. When we come to the predominant storyline, it involves Lane possibly being charged with war crimes over the treatment of terror suspects in Pakistan (read Iraq). The film is very cleverly done but far enough removed to not be libellous.
I don’t want to elaborate too much on the twists and turns as I don’t want to spoil it for you, except to say that I guessed who the conspirator was about half way through, but underestimated the full extent of the corruption, and you may be surprised by who you end up feeling sorry for.
MacGregor is likeable, as always, and Brosnan is charismatic, as always - there is a good performance from Kim Cattrall as Lane’s assistant/mistress, although I thought this relationship could have been explored in more detail and depth. Polanski’s perfectionism shines through, as does his lack of sentimentality, particularly with the ending – which is blunt, but this makes it great. As well as the thrilling plot there are a few laughs – particularly when MacGregor, when faced with the PM’s wife in a distressed state in his bedroom, looks in the bathroom mirror saying ‘bad idea’ - you can guess what happened next and there were a few ‘I’ve been there’ sympathy chuckles from the audience.
Forget what you think about Blair, Iraq, Polanski etc. – just go and see what is an excellent, flawless and highly charged movie from start to finish – think high-level corruption stories along the lines of The Pelican Brief, or Michael Clayton without the Hollywood ending. I really cannot recommend it highly enough.