LAKE OCONEE —
Rated PG-13 (for some violent images, sexual content and thematic material).
I wanted to see “The Hobbit,” but my Cinema Concubine generously pointed out that she is more than a little acquainted with the antics of one particular Hobbit---on a daily basis as a matter of fact---and preferred to have the night off and see “Hitchcock.”
Naturally, Hitch got the honor of our presence.
“Hitchcock” centers on the great film director's making of “Psycho.” At this point in his life, Mr. Hitchcock (played by Anthony Hopkins), was being accused of losing his touch, after a few missteps like “Vertigo.”
So The Master reads Robert Bloch's book “Psycho” and obsesses about making the first Hitchcock horror film against everybody's advice; even to the point that he mortgages his own house to pay for it since fair-weather partners, Paramount Pictures, refuses to back it.
The plot gives half of its time to making “Psycho” and Hitchcock's obsession with his blonde star Janet Leigh (played by Scarlet Johansson), while the other half of the film is a rather odd, but intriguing, subplot of Hitchcock's wife, Alma Reville (Helen Mirren), being distracted (this is pure speculative) by a screenwriter's flirtations. Like so many long-married couples, they bicker frequently and past “hurts,” pitched back and forth, slice each other like pale imitations of Norman Bates' knife during the shower scene in “Psycho.”
It should be noted that Alma Reville was key to Hitchcock's success and her character is central to any telling of the Hitchcock saga.
Sir Anthony does a fascinating job of playing Mr. Hitchcock. Alas, it is nothing like Daniel Day-Lewis' brilliant “possession” of Lincoln in “Lincoln” because Mr. Day-Lewis was invisible with his character while Sir Anthony is clearly there with an impish wink and a nod as Mr. Hitchcock.
Bottom line, I found “Hitchcock” fun and intriguing but it was more of a pleasant distraction---and designed for Hitchcock aficionados.
I had taped HBO's “The Girl” to provide a counterpoint to “Hitchcock” and as soon as I and the Other One returned home and slipped into something less restraining, we grabbed our bowl of banana pudding and pushed “play” on this made-for-cable film about Alfred Hitchcock and the making of “The Birds” and “Marnie.”
This is a much darker Hitchcock; a disturbed Hitchcock on his way down a slippery slope to self-humiliation, indignity and eventual desolation and loneliness. In this version, we witness Mr. Hitchcock pathetically slip into alcohol, unrequited lust and film mediocrity.
Toby Jones plays a diminutive, slimmer version of Mr. Hitchcock and he is better suited to play the more repulsive iteration of the director. But sadly, both Mr. Jones and Sir Anthony failed to make my face tingle, my heart beat faster, or my toes twitch. I enjoyed watching these two films and I pulled a few books off my shelves about Mr. Hitchcock's life to see how truthful (pretty much) his rather boorish traits were, so I have to say it was informative and interesting but not too much more than that.
On the other hand, Alma Reville Hitchcock, in both films, is more fascinating to me. And the respective actors do, I dare say, a better job of making their characters “real.” They come to the screen three dimensional rather than the respectful but “façadial” depiction of Alfred Hitchcock.
I do not regret passing up “The Hobbit” for these Hitchcock films; I enjoyed them because they suggest that we reflect upon the often tragic lives of artists and the ravages of ego.
“Hitchcock” earns three and a half bow ties and “The Girl” gets three bow ties out of five.
LAKE OCONEE —
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