My favorite film this year so far is Roman Polanski's The Ghost Writer (224 screens). It has received generally favorable reviews and some respectable box office, but I'm not sure how many people love it the way I do. Speaking to other critics about it, I generally hear complaints about the plot, which comes from a novel by Robert Harris. And there's usually some comment about Polanski's current situation, under house arrest in Switzerland since September 26 of last year, which -- to be frank -- has absolutely nothing to do with the film.

What I love about The Ghost Writer is not necessarily its plot, but the way Polanski zeroes in on the movie's lead character, the unnamed ghost writer played by Ewan McGregor, and uses his visual, physical environment to make things uncomfortable and off-kilter for him. Every frame is set up in such a way to increase paranoia, from big moments like being followed in a car, all the way down to a tiny moment when his bicycle temporarily slips in a gravel driveway; not even his footing is solid.

categories Columns, Cinematical