The Ghost Writer is a pretty decent political thriller novel by Englishman Robert Harris, and then a movie directed by good old Roman Polanski. It’s about a former Tony Blair-style British prime minister played by Pierce Brosnan who is holed up on an estate owned by a Rupert Murdoch-like neocon billionaire, under contract to an American publishing firm to write his memoirs for ten million dollars. The ex-PM hires Ewan McGregor to be his second ghostwriter after his first ghostwriter happens to fall off a ferryboat. (I reviewed the movie in Taki’s in 2010.)
Harris had been a big supporter of Blair until Blair threw in with the Americans over the Iraq Attaq. Harris is a left of center anti-American English nationalist in the Orwell mode, and London being Washington’s poodle is anathema to him.
In the movie, ghostwriter McGregor becomes suspicious that Brosnan’s Blairish ex-PM Adam Lang, his new client, is really a deep cover CIA stooge after he finds a photo of his boss at Oxbridge in the 1970s with an American national security academic now known for his Company connections, played by Tom Wilkinson.
In the scene above, the ghost writer shows Wilkinson’s Harvard professor the 1970s photo of the future prime minister smoking a joint while the young Wilkinson flashes a peace sign. But McGregor fails to extract any usable information from from the barely flappable Wilkinson, while Wilkinson maintains plausible deniability as he perhaps threatens McGregor with murder.
Various plot twists unfold afterwards. I, for one, never saw the final twist coming.
I’m now wondering if Wilkinson’s character is based on American Cambridge prof Stefan Halper, currently in the news?
Not much evidence one way or the other …