Archive for Hitchcock

Review: Hitchcock

Posted in Film with tags , , , , , , , , , on February 18, 2013 by Tom Austin-Morgan

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Alfred Hitchcock is an iconic figure in suspense cinema, producing a huge body of work throughout his career including Psycho, The Birds and Vertigo to name but three. The end of last year saw two films produced about the man and this was the only one to make it to the big screen (the other being The Girl, starring Toby Jones which was shown on TV in the UK at Christmas – a jolly watch!).

Hitchcock stars Anthony Hopkins as the eponymous auteur in this film dressed in a seamless fat suit and prosthetics, you almost don’t recognise him. Especially with the Hitch’s distinctive accent, which if you listen to both Hopkins and Jones delivering lines with your eyes shut you’d think it was the same actor.

Where The Girl was based on a book by Donald Spoto called Spellbound by Beauty: Alfred Hitchcock and His Leading Ladies which featured interviews with various actresses who worked for him as well as crew members. It focuses on the making of The Birds and Marnie with actress Tippi Hedren (played, surprising well by Sienna Miller) an Hitchcock’s obsession with the fledgling actress. It came across as a bit of a character-assasination, but the best biopics show the dark side of their subjects as well as the genius.

Hitchcock, on the other hand, plays down the fantasising and obsession with blondes. It’s still there, there is a scene taken from Psycho itself where he spies on one of his actresses (Jessica Beil) from  a hole in the wall behind a picture while she de-robes in her dressing room. There is also the bullying he subjected his actors to while filming. But by the end of the film this kind of thing is played as cute; he puts the corpse of Mrs Bates in Janet Jeigh’s (Scarlett Johansson) dressing room after the final take to scare her and the whole crew is in on it. A far cry from Jones’ Hitch who was a threatening and malevolent presence on set and off it.

But, Hitchcock is more about the toll that self-funding the film took on his marriage to Alma (Helen Mirren – minus a fat suit). It gives more screen time to the long-suffering wife, who really seems to be the power behind her husband’s genius.

The film has great performances from its stars and is so enjoyable you could easily watch more, though I do think it suffers a little from not having quite as gritty an edge as The Girl. Though it does try, with the strange cut aways to the apparition of serial killer, Ed Gein (Michael Wincott), talking Hitch through his murders and inspiring the  Norman Bates character. The beginning of the film has one of these moments that sets up the film nicely, but the rest scattered haphazardly throughout tend to distract you from the plot, which is a shame. It also used way too many side on shots of Hopkins in the iconic silhouette pose as is to say “look at how much like Alfred Hitchcock we’ve managed to make Anthony Hopkins look!”

Overall Hitchcock is a good biopic which just falls short of being great. As such this begs the question as to why The Girl never made it into cinemas. In my opinion, it is the stronger of the two, even if just by a bit. Interestingly, the two would work very well as a double bill as Hitchcock ends with the idea for The Birds and The Girl takes up the story from there. An interesting idea, that.

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Spot  the difference time!

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