15 feb. 2013

My Review: Hitchcock (7/10)

¨That, my dear, is why they call me the Master of Suspense¨

Biographical films can be tricky because you can enjoy the movie based solely on your love or passion for the person which the film is based on. I knew it was going to be hard for me not to like Hitchcock because I am a huge fan of his work and love to hear every small detail about his life. Hitchcock was one of the most influential filmmakers in the history of cinema, and Psycho is considered to be one of the best horror films of all time so I was excited about this project. I really enjoyed this movie, but I can´t say if someone who isn’t a fan of Hitchcock´s work might enjoy this film or not. Hitchcock was directed by Sacha Gervasi, who also happened to direct one of my favorite documentaries: Anvil: The Story of Anvil; and the screenplay was adapted from Stephen Rebello´s book ¨Alfred Hitchcock and the Making of Psycho.¨ You can´t possibly go wrong with a movie dealing with such an influential director on the making of one of his masterpieces. It is part of the Hollywood history, and everyone who enjoys films will probably appreciate this work for at least trying to give us a glimpse of Hitchcock´s mind. The film might not be as deep as other recent biographical films, but it is a pleasant experience. The major complain most people had is that it didn’t spend as much time on the set of Psycho as it did dealing with his relationship with his wife, Alma. We would have all enjoyed this film a little more if more emphasis was placed on the making of Psycho rather on his disputes with his wife. What I did love about this film is how they focused on the huge risk that Hitchcock was taking by making this movie on his own despite being a well known figure. He decided to step out of his comfort zone and try something new. You are never too old to take risks and follow your heart and that is exactly what Hitchcock did when he decided to make Psycho.

If you can learn one thing from Hitchcock´s life is that the phrase ¨behind every great man there is a great woman¨ is completely true for Alfred and Alma. The story centers on the period of Hitchcock´s (Anthony Hopkins) life when he was coming up with the idea of filming Psycho. It was 1959 and he had recently had success with North by Northwest, but some questions about whether or not he was ready to retire began to creep in his mind. It was time to try something different and when he got his hands around a novel titled Psycho, he knew it would be his following picture. This horror novel seemed impossible to adapt at the time considering all the tight regulations being placed, but Hitchcock took this as his next challenge. Paramount isn’t happy about this risky move so Alfred decides to finance the film on his own with the support of his wife Alma (Helen Mirren). Alma on the other hand begins to collaborate with a friend named Whitfield (Danny Huston) on a screenplay that Alfred has decided to overlook at the moment. Alfred was known for his controlling habits over his lead lady´s and productions, and this being a film financed by him made the tension even worse. He decides to hire Janet Leigh (Scarlett Johansson) for the leading role after Alma´s recommendation and Anthony Perkins (James D´Arcy) to play the psychotic Norman Bates. His former lead lady, Vera Miles (Jessica Biel), was set to play the secondary role. Thus the challenge began for Alfred as he had to manage his personal life with his professional one.

I found it funny how in a couple scenes they brought up the failure of Vertigo, which is now considered to be Hitchcock´s masterpiece. Criticism for that movie wasn’t well received, which shows us how ahead of his time Hitchcock really was. He could have continued to listen to the big production companies and made the same films over and over again, but he decided to face and challenge them bringing something unique and new to the table. This serves as a modern criticism towards Hollywood which continues to make the same films over again without wanting to take any risks. If it weren’t for people like Hitchcock who stood up to these corporate giants we wouldn’t have had films like Psycho. There are some directors today who have been influenced by Alfred and continue to take risks, but for the most part most continue to bend over to the big Hollywood producers. Hitchcock, the movie, doesn’t seem to take any big risks and plays it safe with this biography, but it works thanks to some strong performances from Hopkins and Mirren. Scarlett Johansson, James D´Arcy, and Jessica Biel all share unique resemblance to the original actors. Credit has to be given to the makeup and hairstyling artists who rightfully earned the only Oscar nomination this film received. This was a pleasant experience although the superficial biopic wasn’t groundbreaking; the story was still worth it.

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