Roman Polanski’s new film, the Silver Berlin Bear and European Film Award Winner Ghost Writer is Polanski’s attempt to do a Hitchcock-movie, one replete with discussions over the malleable nature of individual identity, obsession with the lead’s obsession, and a general atmosphere of tom-foolery where everyone is sexually and morally promiscuous – so people screw and kill casually – both without much remorse. Evan McGregor does a very successful Cary Grant by the way of Robert Cummings, and Olivia Williams (more Hedren than Novak) assumes the role of the blonde femme-fatale with great ease.
Polanski doesn’t let Hitchcock completely supersede him, however; because while he preserves Hitchcock’s interest in the phenomenon of the mistaken identity, he filters it through a more personal (and thus, sinister) version – that of the lead willfully assuming the mistaken identity, and in perverse circumstances, beginning to enjoy it.
The ending of Ghost Writer, done in equally tasteful (the death is never ‘shown)' and distasteful ( you can ‘see’ the death from a mile away) portions, also is one of the two greatest endings on film that feature an enormous amounts of pieces of paper randomly flying through air. The other being Stanley Kubrick’s The Killing.
In its discussion of a person being compelled to assume an identity that is not his own, and then being forced to state that the assumed identity is actually his own, Ghost Writer thematically connects with Shutter Island, another 2010 film that is a great director (Martin Scorsese) in the final stages of his career, doing a Hitchcock-movie.