Answers to a mysterious puzzle are mostly hidden in plain sight in Roman Polanski’s “The Ghost Writer,” starring Ewan McGregor as the titular character. Initially hesitant with continuing his deceased predecessor’s work, the new writer must finish the memoirs of former British Prime Minister Adam Lang (Pierce Brosnan). But clues surface, indicating that there was foul play involved in the first writer’s death.
Inspiring uneasiness, and at times necessarily eerie, “The Ghost Writer” is steadily paced and weaves a solid mystery. Brosnan’s smarmy, controversial politician believably elicits suspicion and discomfort, while McGregor approaches the inquisitive writer with subtlety. Also, Olivia Williams’ nearly manic-depressive Ruth Lang impresses. However, it’s a little difficult to see Kim Cattrall playing someone less demanding (and way more conservative) than Samantha Jones. Still, she’s a somewhat imposing presence.
“The Ghost Writer” follows a more traditional narrative, revealing crucial hints at expected junctures. The complicated nature of the ghost writer’s job, and his ill-timed induction into the politician’s entourage, keep matters busy and interesting. Thinly veiled analogues to real-life political figures, issues and controversies add a dash of welcome familiarity. And “The Ghost Writer” offers an inveigling puzzle, answers its queries satisfyingly, and makes the viewer appreciate the hints scattered throughout the film.
“The Ghost Writer” is an Ayala Cinemas exclusive opening on Aug. 4.