Cinema Monolith

Reviews of movies from my giant DVD tower, and more.

Hitchcock

Hitchcock - posterCinema Monolith: 6/10 Film Reel
IMDb: 6.9/10
The Arizona Republic: ***½ out of 5

Released on December 14, 2012
Rated PG-13
98 minutes

Directed by Sacha Gervasi

Written by John J. McLaughlin, based on the excellent book by Stephen Rebello

Cast: Anthony Hopkins, Helen Mirren, Scarlett Johansson, Danny Huston, Toni Collette, Michael Stuhlbarg, Michael Wincott, Jessica Biel, James D’Arcy, Richard Portnow, Kurtwood Smith, Ralph Macchio, Paul Schackman, Rene Auberjonois

I’ve been a Hitchcock fan for many years, and was really looking forward to what I thought was going to be a documentary-like account of the famed director as he worked between 1959 and 1960 on the seminal slasher film Psycho. Instead, and much to my chagrin, this movie-making aspect was delegated to background decoration, and the filmmakers chose to center their story on the relationship between Hitchcock and his wife Alma, and her supposed romantic interest in their friend and occasional collaborator, Whitfield Cook, throughout the film’s production.

Which was unfortunate, because the behind-the-scenes book this movie was based on, Alfred Hitchcock and the Making of Psycho, was an entertaining and informative start-to-finish account of the Psycho experience, and its content would’ve made for a great film if taken from that context. Sadly, it wasn’t, and in the end Hitchcock suffered for it, becoming nothing more than a soap-opera drama with a horror production side story.

And for me, that was the glaring problem: the story. Though portions of the book made it into the screenplay, they only served as a vague backdrop to the marital problems—that is, if you consider flirting a problem—being suffered by the Hitchcocks, that screenwriter John J. McLaughlin seemed so intent on focusing on. The character depictions, the re-creations of the era, the set design, the historical aspects related to 1950s filmmaking, and even the film’s Technicolor-like cinematography were all first-rate, and made the lack of a relevant narrative that much more frustrating.

At first glance, the casting choices may have seemed absurd as well, but they actually worked, and kudos should go to those actors for bringing a convincing level of believability to their roles. Of course, Anthony Hopkins had the most difficult task, playing such an iconic and recognizable person as Alfred Hitchcock, but he pulled it off, right down to the director’s trademark mannerisms and idiosyncrasies. For these reasons, I’m giving the film a respectable rating, and though I’m sure many of you won’t have the same reservations I had going in, I’m still convinced the end result should’ve been plenty more rewarding, even for the everyday viewer who is not a Hitchcock aficionado.  (6/10)

Hitchcock - photo trio final

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8 comments on “Hitchcock

  1. grandrapidsgirl
    7/12/13

    I can’t imagine Hopkins playing Hitchcock, but not sure I’ll ever see that in light of your review. I had the same expectations you did. Nice review regardless. Keep up the good work!

    • Todd Benefiel
      7/12/13

      Thanks! There’s quite a bit of makeup and padding, but he didn’t look half bad, actually, and I was impressed with his portrayal. And when you say ‘Hopkins’, I’m assuming you mean Anthony Hopkins, and not Bo Hopkins, right?*

      *Joke Alert!

  2. robbinsrealm
    7/12/13

    I have nominated you for The Liebster Award.

  3. Popcorn Nights
    7/16/13

    I’ll check this out at some point as I’m intrigued by Hopkins’ performance (Anthony, not Bo). Did you see the HBO documentary on Hitchcock called The Girl? It was shown last year, dealing with the making of The Birds. It was OK, and painted him in a very poor light. Would probably make an interesting comparison with this film.

    • Todd Benefiel
      7/16/13

      I haven’t seen The Girl, but I’ve wanted to, and I’ll definitely rent it if it’s available from Netflix. I’m surprised to hear it shows the negative side of Hitchcock…I can’t imagine that would be much fun. Interesting maybe, but not fun. And after seeing Anthony Hopkins in what I consider the definitive portrayal, it’s discombobulating to see photos of Toby Jones in the role; to me, it’s looks as if he’s playing Hitchcock in a bad Saturday Night Live sketch.

      • Popcorn Nights
        7/17/13

        The photos I’ve seen of Hopkins are certainly closer to the original source!

      • Todd Benefiel
        7/17/13

        Agreed! Helen Mirren, on the other hand, is not even close to the original source. Which, I’m sorry to say, is a good thing.

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Movies Reviewed: 159

From the Monolith: 87

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