REVIEW: Hitchcock

30 11 2012

It’s such a magical feeling when a movie gets you intoxicated not only on itself but on the entire craft of cinema as well.  You go into a dark room and carry in whatever baggage from the day, but you emerge joyful, reinvigorated, and transformed.

That’s how I felt when I walked out of the theater after a rapturously good time with “Hitchcock.”  Sacha Gervasi’s slice-of-biopic flick, focusing on the time when the master of suspense struggled to get “Psycho” made, strikes the right chords throughout the film.  It respects the mastery of Hitchcock but does not fear him as an untouchable deity, treating him as a man and artist just like anyone else.

But Gervasi’s film is more than just about Hitchcock or even the artistic climate into which he released what is still one of the best horror films ever made.  Clear parallels are drawn to the current day world of film production.  You know, the world where an unambitious movie like “John Carter” gets greenlit and causes a $150 million write-down while a masterpiece like “Black Swan” has to scrap together a budget but reaps it back 25 times over.

We now know Alfred Hitchcock as the legendary Hitchcock, but in his time, he struggled to have studio support for a movie that did not fit neatly into convention – even when coming off the enormous success of “North by Northwest.”  Thankfully, Hitchcock had faith in his own vision and was willing to finance it himself at enormous financial risk.

And Gervasi has wielded the knife of excoriation to jab at executives who were only looking to make a profit out of movies.  There are also a number of well-placed ironic remarks about the supposed failure of “Vertigo.”  You know, that movie that recently replaced “Citizen Kane” as the best film of all time according to Sight and Sound.  The myopia of Hollywood is lade bare to be mocked and criticized.  History has repeat itself with a vengeance.

Hitchcock

But beyond an allegory for the trouble state of the movies, “Hitchcock” delights on a number of other levels.  It’s got that “My Week with Marilyn“-esque joie de vivre, a behind-the-scenes look at an iconic figure that explores the side of their profile hidden from public view.  We get to see Hitch’s marriage, his jealousy, the way he treated his actors (particularly cruelly to Scarlett Johansson’s Janet Leigh and Jessica Biel’s Vera Miles), and the way he ran a set.  Something tells me the next time I see “Psycho,” I’ll look at it in an entirely different manner.

The movie also boasts a very touching love story at its core between Hitchcock and his wife, Helen Mirren’s shrewd shrew Alma Reveille.  Unbeknownst to many, she was an integral part in crafting some of his most famous movies.  And she was always the opinion he valued most.

But in “Hitchcock,” tensions arises when Alma tries to create a screenplay for herself with Danny Huston’s slimy womanizer Whitfield Cook.  It leads to the surfacing of plenty of questions and frustrations that bubbled under their relationship for years, and they only get heightened by the agonizing process of getting “Psycho” filmed.  Their fights are compelling to watch as Mirren and Hopkins, both feted for their incredible powers of assertion on screen, manage to tear each other apart but somehow draw us inwards towards them all the more.

Yet through the struggle, they fall in love all over again.  And we fall head over heels for them – and movies too.  A-3halfstars

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3 12 2012
Duke & The Movies :: With A Little Help From My Friends

[…] by Marshall’s adulation for Hitchcock. Worth a […]

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