20 April 2010

Giving Up the Ghost

I haven't blogged for a while. I haven't seen a film I've disliked for even longer. Actually, that's a little unfair on The Ghost (or is that The Ghost Writer?) because for me to dislike it would have required me to care about it and I can't say that I did.

I read the Robert Harris novel on which the film is based about two years ago and while I quite enjoyed it, I didn't think it was anything special; it was a solid political thriller and an interesting alternate history of Tony Blair (or was it alternate?) but I preferred Enigma and Fatherland. I didn't pay much attention to the film version until it was lauded at the Berlin Film Festival and I thought it might actually be quite good. Some good reviews were somewhat cancelled out by the negative review I got from my parents (who could have been jet-lagged). I quite like Ewan McGregor and I quite like Pierce Brosnan and I was quietly optimistic about the film that has been described as perfectly "Hitchcockian."

No. I'm sorry but Hitchcock would turn over in his grave at the thought of that film being compared to his own. If a film weighs in at over two hours, it damn well better justify its length in some way: with great characters, a clever script, style or (preferably) suspense. The Ghost was one of the least suspenseful films I've seen in a long time. Sure, there are moments of action--in the one car chase sequence, McGregor's character, a ghost writer hired to write the memoirs of a very Blairesque former British PM, even pushes his car above 80 miles per hour for a couple of seconds! The book, for all all its failings (mainly it's failure to create sympathy for any of the characters) had some great tense moments--there were thrills and there was excitement. Even the denouement, which should have been highly dramatic and shocking, only left me yawning.

It could just be that because I had read the book, I wasn't on the edge of my seat because I knew what was going to happen but in many cases, reading the book (or even having seen the film before) doesn't mean the film leaves you cold. At least, it shouldn't, if the film has been well made.

I'm sorry, Roman; Chinatown was great but your latest film just seems like a ghost of your former self.

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