Movie Review: Hitchcock

Originally Appeared On Kelly Green Blog

I made the mistake of seeing ‘Hitchcock’ last night. I was terribly disappointed. I never expected it to be a great film, but a good one—or a fun one—at least. I grew up watching Alfred Hitchcock movies with my mom (she loves horror and suspense). We’d watch the classics like ‘Psycho’ and ‘The Birds’, of course, but also ‘The Lady Vanishes’, ‘The 39 Steps’, ‘Rebecca’, ‘Lifeboat’ with Tallulah Bankhead. They were so well-crafted, so perfectly paced and so mesmerizing that, as a kid I didn’t mind they were in black-and-white.

The film ‘Hitchcock’ focuses on the making of ‘Psycho’, Hitch’s relationship with his wife, and his later years. Anthony Hopkins—like the film—is good, not great as the legendary director. There’s a scene with Helen Mirren (she plays Alma, his wife and is the better actor in this film) where the two sit outside together and talk about motivation. Why after all these years is Hitch choosing to direct a b-grade trashy horror novel? Well, his answer feels honest: he wants to do something different.

After 3 decades of directing movies at this point, things have gotten stale. He’s thinking about the excitement of the early days when everything was new. They had to figure stuff out, they had to learn how to make the films—the discovery was fun. Makes sense, but Hopkins’ delivery feels forced, trite, and sentimental. There’s something about the direction of the film that makes it feel like a mediocre tv movie. Like one that would show on TBS or something, not HBO.

If these were my only gripes, I might recommend the film (with a few reservations), but ‘Hitchcock’ takes a turn that is unforgivable. There’s a plot device that runs through the entire movie, that does not work. It makes the film laughable.

All horror buffs and those fascinated by serial killers will know the name Ed Gein, a man who murdered several people in the 1950s. He became so notorious that he inspired the Norman Bates character in ‘Psycho’, Leatherface in ‘The Texas Chainsaw Massacre’, and Buffalo Bill from ‘The Silence of the Lambs’. Well, fine, but that doesn’t mean I want to see him talking to Alfred Hitchcock in daydream sequences strung throughout a movie for seemingly no other reason than a vain attempt at being arty. It DOESN’T work. Cut out all of the metaphorical nonsense and the movie is automatically better. Just tell the story, it’s Alfred Hitchcock making one of the most iconic movies ever—that’s enough!

Now, I’ll say something nice: James D’Arcy as Anthony Perkins is creepy good!

[**] out of [****]

‘Hitchcock’ is directed by Sacha Gervasi and is rated PG-13. It’s currently playing in theaters nationwide and stars Anthony Hopkins, Helen Mirren, Scarlett Johansson, Toni Colette, and James D’Arcy. Skip it, and rent ‘Lifeboat’ instead.

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