HITCHCOCK. 2012. BASED ON THE NOVEL ‘ALFRED HITCHCOCK AND THE MAKING OF PSYCHO’ BY STEPHEN REBELLO. DIRECTED BY SACHA GERVASI. MUSIC BY DANNY ELFMAN. STARRING ANTHONY HOPKINS, HELEN MIRREN, SCARLETT JOHANSSON, JESSICA BIEL, JAMES D’ARCY, DANNY HUSTON, MICHAEL STUHLBARG AND TONI COLLETTE. REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©
Oh dear. I really wanted to like this film. After all, Alfred Hitchcock has always been my favourite director and PSYCHO the film that’s had the most influence on me throughout most of my life. I first watched it when I was a terrified teenager and I literally only plucked up the courage to watch it again this year. That’s right, I’m not a teenager any more, haha.
Despite the long gap between the two viewings, however, I never forgot it and it’s haunted my nightmares for most of my adult life. I tell that story a lot but I think it’s a good story and it bears repeating. I think it shows the effect a film can have even after only one viewing.
I’ve come on a good bit since that first time though, in terms of sheer courageousness, and this year I was able to watch all four films in the PSYCHO franchise without freaking out. Just about. And like I said, I really wanted to like HITCHCOCK, the film that tells the story of how PSYCHO got made. But I didn’t. I can’t even really say why I didn’t. But I can give it a go, just for you guys.
I’ve always loved Anthony Hopkins, the star of such films as THE SILENCE OF THE LAMBS, THE ELEPHANT MAN, 84 CHARING CROSS ROAD, THE REMAINS OF THE DAY and ARCH OF TRIUMPH. He gives nothing less than a stellar performance in each one of these movies. To be fair, he acts his socks off as Alfred Hitchcock, the brilliant film director who brought us THE BIRDS, VERTIGO and REAR WINDOW. He’s probably the best thing about this film, which suffers dreadfully from a complete and utter lack of atmosphere.
I suppose that Helen Mirren would appear to be the ideal choice to play Alma Reville, Hitch’s wife and the woman on whom it would seem he greatly depended, but I just don’t like her myself. Yes, I know that she’s a game old gal and that she has no problem with getting her kit off and all that, but I just find her somewhat tiresome. No better woman to chivvy Hitch into eating his greens and laying off the puddings, maybe, but her emotional love affair with Whitfield Cook was portrayed in such a way as to be insipid in the extreme and I guess I just find her a wee bit annoying in general.
Scarlett Johansson actually did a reasonable enough job as Janet Leigh, the leading lady who shocked America by getting herself killed about a third of the way into the picture. Jessica Biel as Vera Miles was not believable and Toni Collette, who was scintillating in MURIEL’S WEDDING and ABOUT A BOY, was pretty stiff and wooden as Hitchcock’s Girl Friday, Peggy. The guy they chose to play Anthony Perkins, the actor who plays one of the most memorable screen psychopaths the world has ever seen, barely registered with me, which was disappointing to say the least.
It’s not all bad. I liked the scenes with Ed Gein in them. Ed Gein…? You know, the guy from Wisconsin who kicked off the whole shooting match by being caught back in 1957 with a houseful of human skulls and skin, body parts and other gruesome objects that shocked the living daylights out of the police officers who came to his house. The subsequent news stories inspired Robert Bloch to write his bestselling novel, which Hitchcock then went on to film with devastating success.
The bit where Hitch is seen outside the cinema doors, gauging the audience’s reaction to the shower scene according to which bit of Bernard Herrmann’s superb score is playing, is quite funny and sweet, especially when he gets the reaction he was hoping for.
I liked the bit at the end as well when Hitch talks directly to camera and tells the viewers that he’s looking for inspiration for his next film and a big black bird flies down and lands on his shoulder. Snigger.
Also, I definitely giggled when the bigwigs at Paramount dismissed PSYCHO as the film in which ‘a queer runs around killing people in his mother’s dress,’ or words to that effect. Yes, that’s technically what it’s about but there’s a bit more to it than that, as anyone who’s ever watched it will know.
Actually, I also liked ‘Anthony Perkins’ (James D’Arcy) telling the story of how his love for his own mother caused him to wish his father dead when he was a nipper. That was an unexpected and valued insight into the actor’s psyche.
Jeez, maybe I liked more about the film than I realised. I hate being mean about any film but I guess I just expected a lot more from the one that’s meant to be telling the story of one of the most iconic horror movies of all time.
I definitely have issues with the casting and the famous director’s much-documented obsession with his leading ladies lost much of its menace in HITCHCOCK‘s treatment of it, but maybe the film wasn’t all bad. Watch it for yourself and decide. And yes, you can watch it alone. It ain’t scary…
AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.
Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based performance poet, novelist, film blogger, sex blogger and short story writer. She has given more than 200 performances of her comedy sex-and-relationship poems in different venues around Dublin, including The Irish Writers’ Centre, The International Bar, Toners’ Pub (Ireland’s Most Literary Pub), the Ha’penny Inn, Le Dernier Paradis at the Trinity Inn and The Strokestown Poetry Festival.
Her articles, short stories and poems have appeared in The Metro-Herald newspaper, Ireland’s Big Issues magazine, The Irish Daily Star, The Irish Daily Sun and The Boyne Berries literary journal. In August 2014, she won the ONE LOVELY BLOG award for her (lovely!) horror film review blog. She is addicted to buying books and has been known to bring home rain-washed tomes she finds on the street and give them a home.
She is the proud possessor of a pair of unfeasibly large bosoms. They have given her- and the people around her- infinite pleasure over the years. She adores the horror genre in all its forms and will swap you anything you like for Hammer Horror or JAWS memorabilia. She would also be a great person to chat to about the differences between the Director’s Cut and the Theatrical Cut of The Wicker Man. You can contact her at:
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2) A WRITER’S JOURNEY
3) ANNA MEETS COUNT DRACULA
4) ANOTHER FIFTY REALLY RANDOM HORROR FILM REVIEWS TO DIE FOR…
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6) CATCH OF THE DAY
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