REVIEW: Hitchcock

5

hitchcock_ver3For decades, Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho has been a vital film of study as well as being arguably the original source of modern horror. It was also the first of a 30-year long but remotely pointless franchise and has been remade. However, the story behind the making of how it all began has yet to be made as a cinematic adaptation. Adapted from the non-fiction book by Stephen Rebello, Hitchcock’s memorable work on Psycho finally comes to the screen for the first time. In the film, we have been expecting to see all the facts based upon the making of Psycho and to understand the cast and crew as ordinary people. Therefore, it was bound to excite avid film fanatics and as a result of this, Hitchcock had overwhelmingly high expectations. However, considering that it was fascinating regarding the facts but as a film, it was a disappointment.

As everybody knows, Alfred Hitchcock was one of the greatest directors in the history of cinema but to make a film about him is challenging and perhaps requires an equally sophisticated director to take charge of behind the scenes. The privilege eventually went to Sacha Gervasi, whose only previous experience as director was for documentary Anvil: The Story Of Anvil. Therefore, he is making Hitchcock his directorial debut. A heavy weight would be on the shoulders of whoever was chosen to direct Hitchcock, but Gervasi’s lack of experience really got the better of him here. Of course, he tried and his visual interpretations of some facts during that time were convincing but still, the project was too big for newbies in the film industry.

However, the film does not suffer entirely because of direction. The structure of the film is poor. It is a mixture of two central stories – the making of Psycho and Hitchcock’s own marital problems with his wife. Therefore, it becomes a bio-pic and a romantic-drama that sends the audience in unknown directions and becomes a shamble. Furthermore, why does Hitchcock see and talk to Ed Gein? Psycho itself is based on a book from a few crimes that Gein committed and many moviegoers should know this by now, but screenwriter John J. McLaughlin adding that sub-plot into the script was pointless and served no meaning. The film clocks in at approximately 90 minutes and because it has mixed stories, it could have lasted for 2 ½ hours in order for it to work. In that sense, it was flat and very rushed.

On the somewhat brighter side of Hitchcock were the performances. The great Sir Anthony Hopkins puts on a body suit and undergoes complicating make-up procedures to consequently become an almost exact replica of the Master of Suspense. Just like a strong director would be needed to make Hitchcock, an extremely talented actor is essential when playing Hitchcock himself. In the role, Hopkins expresses the features of Hitchcock through the same facial and figural expressions but in terms of on-screen chemistry between characters, he lacked the bitterness as well as the talent and commitment that Hitchcock put into Psycho. However, although the film has poor structure, it helped us see Hitchcock as a person, not only as a great filmmaker, through the marital storyline. Still, Hopkins was probably the best choice to play the Master of Suspense and he overall delivers in the role, but he was still a tad shoddy at times. Meanwhile, Dame Helen Mirren delivers a great performance as Hitchcock’s wife Alma. Compared to Hopkins and the majority of supporting actors, Mirren’s portrayal of Alma is perhaps the only one that is considered ‘normal’ and is almost like everybody else who does not have a popular celebrity status among Hollywood. Still, Mirren’s performance is impressive despite portraying an highly repetitive character type.

Furthermore, the casting of Scarlett Johansson as Janet Leigh was an unusual but at the same time, curious decision. Of course, Johansson was a beautiful choice when portraying the beauty of Leigh, but in terms of performance, it was literally like she was playing herself and expressing her sex symbol reputation, not performing as a talented actress going into arguably the greatest thriller of all time. Therefore, she did not entirely fit into Janet Leigh’s character. However, James D’Arcy is without a doubt the most accurate performer of the entire film as he was absolutely marvelous as Anthony Perkins. Although, he does not get much screen time, D’Arcy almost brings Perkins back to life with his timid and shy mannerisms. He even performs as Norman Bates on occasions through these sensitive ways that Perkins possessed. Jessica Biel makes a decent supporting appearance too as Vera Miles.

As previously established, Hitchcock is a large project that has many trails behind it and has so much going for it. It may have been challenging to pull off but it still had the potential to be a truly great film, but unfortunately it became rather dull that progressively reached a flat end. Admittedly, audiences can become over-psyched with this and expect it to be as superb as how Alfred Hitchcock himself would film it, but for that reason, the film should have been placed in the hands of a more experienced director and screenwriter. Nevertheless, despite that Hitchcock provided enough facts to keep the audience interested and most of the acting was a hit, it was still a let-down and, thus, did not become the great film that it could and should have been.

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~ by SJMJ91 on 31/01/2013.

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