Saturday, November 24, 2012

Hitchcock [2012]

MPAA (PG-13)  Roger Ebert (3 Stars)  Fr. Dennis (2 1/2 Stars)

IMDb listing
Roger Ebert's review

Hitchcock (directed by Sasha Gervasi, screenplay by John J. McLaughlin, based on the book Alfred Hitchcock and the Making of Psycho [1990] by Stephen Rebello) definitely has its moments.

The beginning sequence where the character Alfred Hitchcock [IMDb] (played marvelously here by Anthony Hopkins) introduces himself to the audience is just great -- both shocking and funny -- exactly what one imagines the famous director to have been like.  And Hopkins does not let up, giving a great performance and probably one of the funniest/most enjoyable to watch (and probably to have played) of his entire career.

Similarly, Helen Mirren does an outstanding job playing Hitchcock's wife Alma who both had a life/career of her own and (as the viewer sees....) had to put-up with quite a bit of annoyances, some frankly a bit creepy (Parents take note ... I would have preferred honestly an "R" rating to "PG-13" for the film), being married to in her own words (with appropriate half-playful/half-serious inflection to be imagined here by the reader) "the great Alfred Hitchcock."

Even Scarlet Johansson gives a stellar performance as Janet Leigh [IMDb] who played the key role of Marion Crane the "wayward secretary" murdered by the "psycho" Norman Bates in Alfred Hitchcock's famous film.  In Hitchcock's Psycho [1960], Marion Crane was simply a "striking" (and to Hitchcock and much of late-1950s Hollywood, "striking" meant "young, voluptuous and blonde") but "bad" woman who the script leads to a very, very _bad end_.  Yet Johansson's Janet Leigh reminds the viewer that Leigh (in contrast to Marion Crane) was far more than a "fattened calf led to slaughter." Leigh who played the "bad" Marion Crane who was murdered in the shower by Norman Bates was _actually_ a wife and mother concerned actually about how her role would look _not merely_ to "movie audiences" but to her family and especially to her kids.  It all kinda makes the famous shower/murder scene in Psycho feel a bit different.  Yet, Janet Leigh was _not merely_ a wife/mother.  She was _also_ a professional actress.  As I write this, I find myself actually _in awe_ of Scarlet Johanssen's performance, even if it was supporting to Mirren's and Hopkins'.

Yet, despite these three outstanding performances -- and one could add James D'Arcy's admittedly rather small role in this film (but again IMHO _flawlessly_ executed) of playing Anthony Perkins [IMDb] (who played Norman Bates in Hitchcock's Psycho) -- this film about Hitchcock making his famous film still feels strikingly _flat_.

How could it be that _so many_ individual performances in this film would be _so good_ and yet the final product be soooo ... mediocre?  Blame it on the direction, blame it on the editing or on the script.  But it's honestly a shame.  Both the idea for the film and the individual performances were just great.  Yet this would seem to be one film that just did not come together.  And that deserves one big sigh ...

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