Tuesday, March 16, 2010


No matter what your feelings about Roman Polanski, there is no denying he remains a world-class film-maker. THE GHOST WRITER is not a CHINATOWN (or a KNIFE IN THE WATER), but despite its biographically beyond improbable conclusion, it is an excellent film in the thriller (and Hitchcock) tradition, with a leitmotif of Billy Budd-like Innocence as a subtext, quite subtle and, since it is Polanski, consciously done, I would venture to say. Not to give anything away to spoil the viewer's enjoyment, but when the ghost writer is questioned before his release near the end of the film, he is asked if he had reported a certain conversation. He did not, and readers of Melville are reminded that it is that omission which allows Claggert to accuse Budd to Captain Vere. Not that THE GHOST WRITER is an allegory of any kind; however, when, in innocence, the writer lets the chief villains know he has discovered their secret, there can be then no way out.... And the great Eli Wallach delivers a marvellous cameo half-way through.

(And highly recomennded, for the serious cineaste only, Haneke's film THE WHITE RIBBON.)