Classic Noir is Back. The Ghost Writer is Great

I just saw the film The Ghost Writer and is was awesome.  Really great.  I felt the way i feel when i’m watching an old Hitchcock movie for the first time.  That feeling when watching a movie that everyone tells you have to see becuase it’s so good and then you finally get around to watching it.  You know it’s good from the beginning and as the film continues it gets better and better and you can just feel the goodness of the movie as you watch it.  That happened here.

The movie was writen by Robert Harris who is a former BBC TV reporter and political columnist.  He actively supported Tony Blair until the Iraq War, which Harris felt was a mistake. When Blair resigned in ’07, Harris quit his job to write the novel The Ghost. So, the similarities between Blair and Adam Lang, Cherie Blair and Ruth Lang, Hatherton and Halliburton, etc. are definitely intentional.

I also love it because it’s a classic film noir.  The rarely make films this way anymore because people want action instead of suspense, love instead of skepticism, optimism instead of curruption and happy endings instead of killing the good guy.  Well, I like warm fuzzies and Jennifer Aniston as much as the next guy, but what a i LOVE is a good old kick-ass Noir.  Let me explain:

  • The whole movie is dark and rainy.  I was freezing in the theater and i couldn’t tell if i was actually cold or if it was just the film’s atmosphere.  That atmosphere — a rain-swept Martha’s Vineyard in winter — has an ominous, gray chill, and the main interior looks just as cold.  Interesting note: the movie was filmed in Germany and all the views of the ocean were done with green screen. Classic noir.
  • Corruption rules.  No matter how hard the Ghost tries to find out the truth and do the right thing, he’s in over his head – just like his predecesor was and it’s likely to get him killed.  Everyone is cheating on everyone else either sexually or professionally.  Who can you trust?  If you’re familiar with Polanski’s other classic, Chinatown, you’ll know that the answer is nobody.  Classic noir.
  • Mysteries and Clues.  There are dead bodies and they point to clues which point back to the dead body which point to something. What? We don’t know.  The story is great and you can actually try to figure it out, which is amazingly novel these days.  In the latest Sherlock Holmes, did you ever for a minute follow the mystery that was trying to be solved?  I didn’t.  That’s why that movie sucks and this movie is awesome.
  • Women are deadly and the last ones standing.  There’s a reason the phrase “femme fatale” was given to the noir genre. Oops, did that give anything away?  Sorry about that.
  • Everyone dies. Well not everyone, but this film has no problem killing people you like. And it doesn’t kill them in a cheesy way like a gun shootout but in an old school way – with one giant event.  Classic noir.

Polanski did an amazing job.  There is obviously a big parallel between Polaski and the character Lang as both are exiles sought by a court.    Apparently the Swiss arrested him while they were filming this and he finished the film while in prison.  I haven’t seen the documentary about him that came out last year but i do know that he’s got a way of making really good movies.

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One thought on “Classic Noir is Back. The Ghost Writer is Great
  1. Saw this in Austin. Amazing. Ruth is the chick from Rushmore. She gets naked in The Postman with Costner. Good to know.

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