I've heard of first person shooters, but first person films? Not until I saw The Ghost Writer.
While playing fps(first person shooter) games, you cower when you die and feel glory when you kill. When you're doing neither, you feel fear, tension and excitement; all at the same time. That's how you feel when watching The Ghost Writer, which I'd call - a first person film.
Adam Lang, the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom has been accused of torturing British citizens of Islamic heritage. Being a grave violation of human rights, it has caused a stir amongst the people of the nation. In an attempt to repair his blemished image and win back the people, he decides to write a memoir. For that, he needs a Ghost Writer. That's where the central character of the film, the unnamed ghostwriter comes into play. He has no identity and his character is intentionally undeveloped. But he is a character. He acts and feels what you'd feel in such a situation. Yet you do. You feel the tension not because you empathize with the character, but because you feel it is you who's being hunted.
I'm in a delicate position having to review this film without giving away any details. The film is plot-driven. Unlike most plot driven films that focus on keeping you engaged and giving you adrenaline rushes, this one aims its attention at building atmosphere. It's all in the air. There's interdependence between the cinematography and the sound design, which itself maintains the right balance between the score and the sound from stationary objects that you're just subconsciously aware of. Indeed a first person film. It's a film to be experienced. Seventy-seven year old Roman Polanski has made yet another masterpiece. Chinatown, The Pianist and now The Ghost Writer.
I felt I needed to dedicate an entire paragraph to praise the performance of Ewan McGregor, who carried a major part of the film on his shoulders. It's a generic performance. He had to communicate what the character felt with great reserve, so that it'll get to you in a subliminal way. It's a great performance that's hard to appreciate the first time. When he notices that something is amiss, he investigates. He fears for his life, but he's keener on uncovering the mystery. McGregor's prying eyes were rightly cast. There's a shot where he's shown towered by everything around him. That's symbolic. He's a speck in a huge world, having to find his own way. The film in spite of the amassing tension not once chooses to burst fire with emotion. Rightly done. The supporting performances of Tom Wilkinson, Olivia Williams and Pierce Brosnan are all on the mark.
The Ghost writer is a triumph of a film that deserves to be hailed with Oscar nominations- best actor, best adapted screenplay, best cinematography, best score, best sound editing, best picture and most of all, best director. But that didn't happen. If The Academy ever decides to give away belated Oscars, The Ghost Writer rightfully deserves a few.