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"THE GHOST WRITER"
(2010) (Ewan McGregor, Pierce Brosnan) (PG-13)

Alcohol/
Drugs
Blood/Gore Disrespectful/
Bad Attitude
Frightening/
Tense Scenes
Guns/
Weapons
Heavy Mild Extreme Moderate Extreme
Imitative
Behavior
Jump
Scenes
Music
(Scary/Tense)
Music
(Inappropriate)
Profanity
Mild Mild Heavy None Heavy
Sex/
Nudity
Smoking Tense Family
Scenes
Topics To
Talk About
Violence
Heavy Mild Extreme Moderate Extreme


QUICK TAKE:
Drama/Suspense: A scribe finds his assignment of ghost-writing the autobiography for the former Prime Minister of Britain complicated by various developments as well as growing concern that his writing predecessor's recent death might not have been an accident.
PLOT:
A scribe known only as the Ghost (EWAN McGREGOR) has just taken a replacement assignment to complete the ghost writing of former British Prime Minister Adam Lang's (PIERCE BROSNAN) autobiography. Approved by the politico's lawyer, Sidney Kroll (TIMOTHY HUTTON), and given just one month to complete the work by publishing head John Maddox (JAMES BELUSHI), the Ghost travels from Britain to Lang's American compound on Martha's Vineyard.

There, he meets Lang's staff, including his personal assistant, Amelia Bly (KIM CATTRALL), who's overly protective of the manuscript, and bodyguard Barry (TIM FARADAY) who's assigned to protect Lang's wife, Ruth (OLIVIA WILLIAMS). She isn't particularly happy with his behavior of recent, and that's exacerbated when he returns to the compound only to hear that Robert Rycart (ROBERT PUGH), one of his former cabinet members that he fired, is now alleging he broke international law by ordering the illegal transfer of suspected terrorists to American officials.

That only makes the pending autobiography even more anticipated, and the Ghost's deadline is moved up two weeks to get it to market faster. Yet, as he works on that, he also starts to investigate the recent death of his immediate predecessor. Ruled as a drunken accident off a ferry, the incident raises the Ghost's suspicions as clues and other info -- such as the previous ghost writer's contact not only with Rycart but also Professor Paul Emmett (TOM WILKINSON) who knew the Langs back in their school days -- come to light.

As the Ghost continues to dig deeper, he soon realizes that isn't making certain parties happy and thus he begins to worry about his safety, all as the heat continues to be turned up on Lang.

WILL KIDS WANT TO SEE IT?
Unless they're fans of someone in the cast or the works of director Roman Polanski, it doesn't seem too likely.
WHY THE MPAA RATED IT: PG-13
For language, brief nudity/sexuality, some violence and a drug reference.
CAST AS ROLE MODELS:
  • EWAN McGREGOR plays a scribe who's hired, on short notice, to ghost write Lang's autobiography and thus take up where his recently deceased predecessor left off. Initially reluctant to take the job, he ends up ever deeply mired in his client's life, especially when controversy erupts. As he begins the job, he also starts to piece together what happened to the previous ghost writer and thus progressively worries about his own safety. He drinks, uses profanity, and ends up sleeping with Ruth.
  • PIERCE BROSNAN plays the former British Prime Minister who's now found himself steeped in controversy over his former handling of terror suspects as well as his related close ties to the U.S. Government. Although never proven, it's implied he's having or had an affair with his personal assistant. He drinks and uses some profanity.
  • OLIVIA WILLIAMS plays his wife and advisor who isn't happy in that marriage, especially of recent. She ends up seducing and sleeping with The Ghost, drinks, and is something of a mysterious character whose motivations are veiled for most of the film. She uses some profanity.
  • KIM CATTRALL plays Lang's steely but alluring personal assistant who, it's implied, is or was having an affair with him. She smokes once and uses some profanity.
  • TOM WILKINSON plays a former professor who knew Adam and Ruth long ago and isn't happy that The Ghost is snooping around through that part of his past.
  • ROBERT PUGH plays a former cabinet official under Lang who's now calling for his former boss' head regarding the latter's handling of the terrorists.
  • CAST, CREW, & TECHNICAL INFO

    HOW OTHERS RATED THIS MOVIE


    Curious if this title is entertaining, any good, and/or has any artistic merit?
    Then read OUR TAKE of this film.


    (Note: The "Our Take" review of this title examines the film's artistic merits and does not take into account any of the possibly objectionable material listed below).


    OUR WORD TO PARENTS:
    The following is a brief summary of the content found in this dramatic thriller that's been rated PG-13. Profanity consists of at least 3 "f" words, while other expletives and colorful phrases are also uttered. Some sexually related dialogue is present, as is the beginning of a sexual encounter (male rear nudity getting into bed), and another affair is implied.

    Violence includes an assassination and then fatal shooting of the assailant (with a little bit of bloody results), while other murders are implied and/or occur off camera, and a video clip briefly shows torture. That and moments of potential peril could be unsettling and/or suspenseful to some viewers, while there's a bit of potentially imitative behavior. Bad attitudes are present, as is tense family material. Characters drink in various scenes, an old photo shows a young man holding a joint, and there's brief smoking.

    Should you still be concerned about the film's appropriateness for yourself or anyone else in your home, you may want to look more closely at our detailed listings for more specific information regarding the film's content.


    ALCOHOL OR DRUG USE
  • There's a comment about how much booze was in a dead man's body.
  • The Ghost has a drink after being mugged.
  • The Ghost has a drink in a bar.
  • The Ghost is told that the price of a motel stay doesn't include the mini-bar.
  • Adam is given what appears to be a Bloody Mary.
  • Adam tells a story from his past in his twenties when he'd had a few drinks.
  • The Ghost has a drink in a bar, the bartender asks if he wants another, and the Ghost does. Another man in the bar also has a drink.
  • Ruth mentions the Ghost's predecessor being drunk when he died.
  • After seeing that her husband's clothes fit him, Ruth tells the Ghost that now all he needs is a drink. She's having wine and gives him some, but he says he doesn't understand the point of white wine and thus has a drink instead. During this, Ruth states she may have to get drunk for a change and has more wine. Moments later, she tells him to stay put and have another drink as she goes outside.
  • We see liquor in a decanter on a table in front of Paul.
  • We see an old photo of Adam holding a joint, with Paul half-sarcastically joking he hoped he (Adam) didn't inhale. Paul then states that summer was a blur, adding "A happy blur."
  • The Ghost downs a mini-bottle of booze in his motel room after being followed by mysterious and possibly dangerous men.
  • The Ghost has a drink.
  • Adam has some liquor and tells an assistant to get the Ghost some. We then see them having even more.
  • People have champagne at a book debut, including Ruth and Amelia.
  • BLOOD/GORE
  • From a distance, we see a body that's washed up in the surf on a beach at night (originally listed as an accident, but later implied to be the result of murder).
  • A soldier (or person dressed as one) assassinates a political figure with a single shot from a rifle or assault weapon (seen from a distance). Others return fire and knock that man from a roof (he's bloody as is the victim, although the latter is to a lesser extent).
  • DISRESPECTFUL/BAD ATTITUDE
  • A miscellaneous man hops off a motorcycle, punches the Ghost in the gut and face, and steals the manuscript he's carrying.
  • We hear that Adam broke international law in the way he seized alleged terrorists and then had them transported to U.S. officials for torture-based interrogation.
  • We see video of water being poured into the mouth of a bound terrorist as a means of torture.
  • It's heavily suggested that Adam and Amelia had or are having an affair.
  • The Ghost breaks Amelia's rules and tries to access the manuscript on a thumb drive.
  • We hear that a witness -- who saw something mysterious the night the body of the Ghost's predecessor was found on the beach -- is now in a coma after a fall down some steps (suggesting that was an intentional act by someone else to try to silence her).
  • After the Ghost asks Ruth if she wishes she was more politically active (in relation to her husband), she fires back a sarcastic question about didn't the Ghost want to be a real writer (rather than a ghost one).
  • Ruth cheats on Adam by having sex with the Ghost.
  • Two men follow and then chase after the Ghost, presumably with bad intentions.
  • A soldier (or person dressed as one) assassinates a political figure.
  • We learn that the CIA recruited a person to go undercover and thus secretly influence a political figure.
  • We hear the sound of a car hitting someone off camera, but don't know their condition (the implication is the act was intentional).
  • FRIGHTENING SCENES
  • The Ghost returns to his motel room to find the door ajar and cautiously looks inside to find the place empty (and hears from the desk clerk that no one else is staying in the motel).
  • The way in which certain characters look at the Ghost (at various points in the film) makes their intentions appear to be dubious and possibly menacing toward him.
  • As the Ghost leaves Paul's house, he spots a dark car on the road back behind him. As he pulls out, the car follows him, resulting in a brief, high speed chase (including the Ghost hurriedly turning down a woodsy road that ends up being a dead-end -- thus potentially making some viewers anxious, but nothing happens at that moment). He then returns to the ferry (from which his predecessor previously disappeared and was then found dead under similar conditions) and sees that the car following him has been let on at the last minute. Two men from that then start searching for him, with the Ghost jumping off the ferry back to the dock just in time, thus eluding the men.
  • A person arrives at the Ghost's door and states he was sent by Rycart, but he looks suspicious as the Ghost allows him in, followed by him searching the Ghost and his stuff.
  • A soldier (or person dressed as one) assassinates a political figure with a single shot from a rifle or assault weapon (seen from a distance). Others return fire and knock that man from a roof (he's bloody as is the victim, although the latter is to a lesser extent). Other security men there have pulled their handguns and prepare for what's next (nothing happens).
  • GUNS/WEAPONS
  • Barry of the security detail is seen wearing a sidearm.
  • A promotional video shows military vehicles as well as various bombs and missiles, some of which are fired (but aren't shown hitting anything).
  • We see an old photo of a man holding a handgun.
  • A soldier (or person dressed as one) assassinates a political figure with a single shot from a rifle or assault weapon (seen from a distance). Others return fire and knock that man from a roof (he's bloody as is the victim, although the latter is to a lesser extent). Other security men there have pulled their handguns and prepare for what's next (nothing happens).
  • IMITATIVE BEHAVIOR
  • Phrases: "For f*ck's sake," "To go f*ck yourselves," "A crock of sh*t," "You little sh*t," "Spare me the...bullsh*t," "What utter bull," "Why the hell would he do that?" "A complete idiot," "Complete nerds," "Bastard," "What freaking use is 'now?'" "Or any balls like that," "You cheeky buggars," "Why don't you just piss off?" and "You really are bloody hopeless."
  • We see video of water being poured into the mouth of a bound terrorist as a means of torture.
  • The Ghost eludes a car following him by driving at high speeds, and after boarding a ferry, he jumps from that back to the dock as the ferry is pulling away.
  • JUMP SCENES
  • A truck comes out of nowhere and nearly hits the Ghost when he rides out onto a road on a bike.
  • A political figure is suddenly shot.
  • MUSIC (SCARY/TENSE)
  • A heavy amount of suspenseful and ominous music plays in the film.
  • MUSIC (INAPPROPRIATE)
  • None.
  • PROFANITY
  • At least 3 "f" words, 10 "s" words, 1 slang term for sex ("screwing"), 5 hells, 2 craps, 1 ass (used with "hole"), 1 buggars, 1 damn, 4 uses of "For God's sakes," 3 each of "Oh for God's sakes" and "Oh God," 2 each of "Christ," "Jesus" and "Oh my God" and 1 use each of "Dear God," "God," "G-damn" and "Oh Dear God."
  • SEX/NUDITY
  • It's heavily suggested that Adam and Amelia had or are having an affair.
  • Some abstract modern art somewhat shows a female figure and what could be interpreted as a bare breast (non-explicit).
  • We see the Ghost's bare chest while he's in a bathtub.
  • Ruth sarcastically comments to the Ghost that she thought Adam married her for her body.
  • We see the Ghost shirtless in bed when Ruth comes in, wet from being outdoors and now in a robe. She sits on the edge of his bed and talks to him, and he gets up (putting a robe around him -- nothing seen) to get her a towel from the bathroom (where he tells himself in the mirror that this isn't a good idea). When he returns, she's already in bed (under the covers), so he joins her, dropping his robe as he does so (we see his full rear nudity). From a distance, we then see her partially get on him mostly under the covers. We see her bare back and sex is implied. The next morning, he quietly tries to get out of bed, with her asking if that's the modesty of the morning after. He then gets dressed (after showering where we see his bare chest), but nothing explicit is seen as he states sleeping in a client's house is a bad idea. She then completes his comment "it always ends with..." with "you screwing the client's wife?" He replies not always as we see a glimpse of her cleavage as she adjusts her robe.
  • The Ghost comments that most people don't want ghost writers at book debuts, saying that's akin to having a mistress at a wedding. When he sees Amelia's reaction to that, he apologizes (implying she was the mistress).
  • SMOKING
  • Amelia smokes once (stating she only does so when stressed or content), while a miscellaneous man is seen with an unlit pipe and another is seen with a cigar.
  • TENSE FAMILY SCENES
  • The Ghost states he has no family (but we never learn the details of that).
  • Ruth reports that nothing has been quite right with her husband of recent, and she seems unhappy in that marriage.
  • A protestor states his son was killed in one of Adam's illegal wars.
  • Ruth cheats on Adam by having sex with the Ghost and later comments on the prospect of getting a divorce from Adam.
  • A wife sees her husband get shot by an assassin, and we later see her and her young kids at the funeral, including a view of the flag-draped coffin.
  • Amelia mentions her marriage not working out.
  • TOPICS TO TALK ABOUT
  • Ghost writers and their work.
  • The film's thinly veiled look at former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, his dealing with the Bush presidency, and their anti-terrorist behavior, policies and such.
  • The amount of security assigned to protect former heads of state.
  • Adam lamenting that in his role, everything is done for him.
  • We learn that the CIA recruited a person to go undercover and thus secretly influence a political figure.
  • VIOLENCE
  • From a distance, we see a body that's washed up in the surf on a beach at night (originally listed as an accident, but later implied to be the result of murder).
  • A miscellaneous man hops off a motorcycle, punches the Ghost in the gut and face, and steals the manuscript he's carrying.
  • We see video of water being poured into the mouth of a bound terrorist as a means of torture.
  • From a distance, the Ghost sees an angry Adam throw his cell phone down hard enough that it breaks.
  • Startled by an alarm, the Ghost ends up falling and hurting his arm (but is okay later).
  • We hear that a witness -- who saw something mysterious the night the body of the Ghost's predecessor was found on the beach -- is now in a coma after a fall down some steps (suggesting that was an intentional act by someone else to try to silence her).
  • A soldier (or person dressed as one) assassinates a political figure with a single shot from a rifle or assault weapon (seen from a distance). Others return fire and knock that man from a roof (he's bloody as is the victim, although the latter is to a lesser extent).
  • We hear the sound of a car hitting someone off camera, but don't know their condition (although it likely isn't good, and the implication is that it was intentional).



  • Reviewed February 22, 2010 / Posted February 26, 2010

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