It’s not often that I go to see a film that I’ve heard from multiple sources is rubbish, but today I did.
Personally, I hadn’t read any published reviews of Hitchcock, but I’d read people’s opinions on Twitter, as well as hearing the ‘Word on the Street’ from members of my family.
But reviews be damned, I wanted to see it, and at only 90 minutes long, and with an Unlimited Card in my wallet I didn’t see the harm.
So what’s the Stuart Reviews Stuff word on this one?
What’s It About?
A film that combines the making of Psycho with Alfred Hitchcock’s own personal and marital problems.
Thoughts – A Film That Casts Its Net Too Wide
Is it a film about Hitchcock and his relationship with his wife and leading ladies – as was the case in the recent BBC drama ‘The Girl’ – or is it a film about the making of Psycho?
You might think the latter wouldn’t be a particularly interesting subject, but I disagree. Psycho was a film made under trying circumstances, with Hitchcock having to fund it himself, getting his cast to agree to lesser fees, having to deal with censorship boards and having to film in black & white to keep the budget down.
It was also the first Hollywood film to start the ‘No late admission’ trend. My knowledge on the subject is sketchy, as I’m not film historian, but it was common practice in those days for people to come into films half way through, and because the supposed star of the show – Janet Leigh – is killed off so close to the start, Hitchcock wouldn’t allow that to happen. Essentially it shaped our own cinema-going habits to this day.
So to me, that’s something that could really have worked as the subject of the film, and I was very much looking forward to it.
Unfortunately, the making of Psycho is really an afterthought to the personal relationships of Hitchcock and his wife Alma, with most of the issues surrounding Psycho’s creation being hurriedly dealt with in a 5 minute period towards the end.
And as a result, we’re left with a film that tries to do too much and ultimately fails to deliver.
It starts off well, but you seen begin to realise that time is almost up and it hasn’t dealt with half the stuff you’d expect, and so many of the plot threads have limp resolutions.
The Girl & Anthony Hopkins
Another part of the problem for me is that what it tries to do too much of – namely focusing on Hitchcock’s marriage – the BBC managed to do better in The Girl.
That was a TV show that – while not spectacular – knew what it was doing. It focused on Hitchcock and his unsuccessful desire to be with the platinum blonde starlets he cast rather than his frumpy wife, and did a solid job of it.
Here, Hitchcock’s wife was portrayed as…well…more glamorous than she perhaps should have been. I’m only 30, so I don’t see the appeal, but I understand gentlemen of a certain age consider Helen Mirren to be quite the catch. So she was mis-cast in my opinion.
Not just that, but Hopkins himself wasn’t anywhere near as good or as convincing as Toby Jones in the BBC production. In fact, Anthony Hopkins came across as a bloke in a fat suit doing a rather over the top impression at a party.
The rest of the cast were fine, but ultimately had very little to work with.
So to me, having seen something better on the subject recently, it misfired.
The Bits In His Head
I might be missing something here – as I did miss the first couple of minutes of the film – but I had no idea what the point of the dream sequences were either. Not only did they add absolutely nothing to the plot, but they didn’t make sense and took time away from dealing with stuff that could have been interesting.
Should You Go To See Hitchcock?
I wouldn’t say so.
Don’t get me wrong; it didn’t drag on, and was a decent watch, but it just didn’t do all that much for me.
The star wasn’t all that good, the leading lady was mis-cast, the rest of the cast didn’t get much of a look in and it didn’t seem to know what direction to go in.
The writers should have decided to focus on one aspect of the film or the other. Either make it about the troubles he had making Psycho, or make it a film about personal relationships like The Girl.
It did neither, so it left me cold.