A body washes up on shore in Massachusetts. Miles away, a recently docked ferry unloads its cars, one by one, until a single vehicle remains unclaimed. Days later, across the ocean in England, the publisher of the forthcoming memoirs of the wildly controversial prime minister, Adam Lang (Pierce Brosnan), requires a new ghost writer. Enter Ewan McGregor, whose young, marginally sensationalist author is hired to replace the recently deceased candidate. Thankfully, the dead man had managed to complete a rather lackluster first draft of the book before he died, plunging drunkenly into the ocean just days before a scandal would emerge about Lang's approval of torture techniques used against Middle Eastern terror suspects.
Of course, in films such as this, nobody falls drunkenly into the ocean who wasn't first pushed, and just what secrets McGregor's predecessor may have discovered fuel the unraveling mysteries of Roman Polanski's The Ghost Writer. With the threat of prosecution in the International Criminal Court hanging over his head and his political enemies amassing like sharks in bloodied water, Lang's recollection of his own rise to power raises questions for McGregor's unnamed author. The facts simply don't align, and Lang's estranged wife Ruth (played brilliantly here by Olivia Williams) appears to be a much stronger and more politically commanding presence than her waffling husband. And amongst all the marital intrigue and political posturing, McGregor can't quite help but investigate whatever secret might have gotten his colleague murdered.
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