The “Ghostwriter” movie is leaving town. It is ending this week, so I drop what I am doing and race down to the theatre. I want to be a full fledged ghostwriter myself, so this film is a must-see. Hopefully, I can learn from this much-acclaimed movie how a real ghoster operates. If I pay close attention, I might end up getting hired by some major celebrity to pen their life’s story. This guy in the movie was offered $250,000! I could live with that!
Being in the Camelot Theatre that also has a lounge, I ordered a gin and tonic to take to my seat. There I sat, sipping my cocktail with pen in hand, ready to scribble in the dark, the details, demeanors, and demographics of this writer on the job. Remember the movie Sunset Boulivard where Gloria Swanson addresses “all those wonderful people out there in the dark.” That’s what I was feeling until the curtain went up.
Now to the movie. With Roman Polanski’s flair for bleakness, our rather naive ghostwriter is spirited off in the middle of the night to an isolated island off the New England coast where he is to interview his subject, the former prime minister of Britain! Pierce Brosnan! I dream of getting a client as handsome and sophisticated as he with such a glamorous life story.
As our hero is settling in, he finds out that the previous ghostwriter died the week before! He supposedly got drunk, met with an ‘accident’, and his body washed up on this lonely New England beach. Well okay, writers can get overly emotional. I myself would have more reserve.
The next day in the village, our ghoster is mugged! Thugs stole a manuscript he was given to deliver. As the story gains momentum, I remind myself to first try a
client that leads a simpler life. Maybe one who lives in a beautiful mansion instead of the cement bunker Polanski provides our Prime Minister, his body
guards, a scary wife, and a stand-off, suspicious staff.
As our friend finally gets to interview the Minister, the television interrupts with blaring reports that our subject PM is accused of being involved in war crimes! Well, that is another story indeed! This ends up with guns and body guards fending off wild anarchists calling for his head while pounding on his car.
By now, Iam gulping the gin and tonic I brought to my seat.
Our ghost’s personal life begins to unravel while that of the PM heats up. Well I wasn’t expecting that! I was eagerly scribbling helpful notes in the dark, but never considered this turn of events! If I myself should hook up with a similar client, would I end up being embroiled in this sort of escapade? Would I have to dodge bullets For $250K?
Events darken as the plot thickens.
Since our beer and sandwich ghost is rather handsome in a naive sort of way, he is surreptitiously seduced by the PM’s mysterious and scary wife. Well now. Ghosts have normal feelings but certainly are expected to remain dispassionate. They should have no personality – they are only ghosts – non-entities in the lives of their clients!
I assume that ghosters just ask questions – take notes – and type. Not consort
with their client’s entourage.
Meanwhile, back at the bunker, he is analyzing the dead ghost’s unfinished manuscript in the very room that man stayed in. His belongings are still there! Creepy. The hidden clues he stumbles on makes him realize that his own life may be in danger. Was this why the guy washed up on the beach miles from the accident?
Armored CIA operatives are now on to our friend, so he escapes by leaping off the ferry as it leaves the island’s port! Yipes! “Polanski has churned up a splendidly palpable sense of dread off the shores of Cape Cod,” says a reviewer of this film. “Oscar performances,” especially by the icy wife – while in bed with our hero? Well that’s just fine. What literary recommenda-tions has he given me on the ins and outs of ghosting procedures with a perfect stranger…
The murder and mayhem that follows I cannot divulge here in case you haven’t seen this superb film, but the brilliant Polanski provides an ending that is a stunner.
As for me, I know I can do this biography stuff. My own qualifications are impressive.
I have been a technical writer at a major university, a webmaster, and an
editor. Plus, I am in a Critique Group. I‘ve learned to interpret their stuff
with a Bostonian level of literary sophistication, adding my own sense of drama
with succincticality. I can add life and spice to the most mundane. Perfect for
ghosting with clients who need their ordinary lives perked up.
I did purchase Sarah Palin’s ridiculously successful biography because you had to know she hired a humdinger ghostwriter. Not much there to glean from, though. I’m short on “golly gee-whiz gotcha’s.” Maybe I should check out Winston Churchill’s hallowed memoirs instead.
Patricia Moloney Dugas