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There will be critics who call The Ghost Writer “a refreshing throwback to the taut political-conspiracy thrillers of the ’70s” and “an enjoyable treat that offers smart flashes of Roman Polanski in his prime,” and this praise, genuinely expressed or not, is unfortunate. Watching the film, I was convinced that had a “blind” screening been arranged—wherein a cinema-savvy audience was not aware of the director’s identity—hardly anyone would claim this a work by a masterful filmmaker. My personal guess would have been, “Ron Howard evoking Alfred Hitchcock—but has Howard lost his wet-fingered knack for the polished blockbuster? Either way, is this receiving a wide theatrical release?”

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