The Ghost Writer has everything: mystery, power, secrecy, seduction, and two very sexy leading men. Everything, it seems, except for a reason why all these things appear on the screen.
The movie follows a young author, hired to replace the recently (and mysteriously) deceased ghost writer for ex-British Prime Minister (and obvious Tony Blair knock-off) Adam Lang. Lang's memoirs promise to be both dynamite on the best sellers' list (a la Harry Potter) and on the world political map, but there is still an odd bit of secrecy surrounding the book's final touch-up and the cast of characters sequesters itself at Lang's isolated beach house on Martha's vineyard.
In spite of rather stellar casting, direction, and dialogue, the fatal flaw in The Ghost Writer is the complete lack of an impactful plot to drive the story or make sense of what we subsequently see on screen. We hear allegations against Lang in the International Criminal Court that are more remarkable for how minor, indirect, and common they are. We see allegations of connections between Lang's family and foreign intelligence services, but are left asking the question, so what? The writer keeps acting like 'the man who knew too much', when in actuality he knows nothing (even at the very end!) and for that reason, the film falls apart.
While cinematically it is a good film, it is certainly not Polanski's best, and maybe if Polanski hadn't been arrested, it would have been worth seeing.