I think for the first time in a long time I have no real idea what to say about a film. I know I want to, but I’m a bit conflicted, to say the least. On one hand, I just saw a biographical piece on one of the most important figures in the world of film making, but emotions aside, “Hitchcock” left too much to be desired and – quite sadly – did not deliver.
I have to admit, that I held really high hopes for “Hitchcock”. With great award-winning cast and almost legendary status of Hitchcock’s persona that extends beyond the world of film, this biopic had all the chances in the world to give “Lincoln” the run for its money. And as much as I’d like to say that Sir Anthony Hopkins pulled a fantastic performance of embodying the one and only Sir Alfred Hitchcock – a movie extraordinaire, it was far from enough to let the film as a whole shed the skin of mediocrity. I don’t mean it to sound belittling neither to Hopkins nor to Helen Mirren (or even Scarlett Johansson, for that matter), because their respective performances were just a delight to watch, but it was just not enough.
I would even go as far as to say that Hopkins’ Hitch (‘Call me Hitch, hold the cock’, as he would allegedly say to Vera Miles) was so convincing that at times I would forget completely that it was in fact Sir Anthony Hopkins that I was watching. And it’s no small feat to achieve, as Hitchcock’s physique was – shall I say – almost too unique to personify, especially with the fact that Hitchcock’s facial features are essentially ingrained in popular culture. I think everybody would recognize the legendary shadow that accompanied Alfred wherever he would go.
Understandably, it took an unimaginable amount of effort for Hopkins to show Hitchcock in the most realistic possible way and I have to congratulate him on that, because with the aid extensive make-up and top-notch acting, the Hopkins’ demeanour – otherwise unforgettable and powerful – would fade away altogether making way for Alfred. I do know that it is much easier to understand and learn the character when you have extensive footage of your subject at your disposal, which was not the case for Day-Lewis when he portrayed Lincoln, but I can honestly say that Hopkins should not be ashamed of his work – a work, which was just phenomenal.
Regretfully, I cannot extend my admiration to the entirety of “Hitchcock”. Let me put it this way: I enjoyed watching it very much, but it’s rather the opinion of this little boy religiously in love with cinema that resides in the dark recesses of my brain. I really enjoyed the opportunity to catch a glimpse of how the master used to work (even if the details were not exactly true), I loved to take a look at ‘the making of’ “Psycho” and see Hollywood through its kitchen window. What is more, the story is told in a way that makes us feel as though “Hitchcock” was just an episode of “Alfred Hitchcock presents”. Nevertheless, life is not a fairy tale and “Hitchcock” lacks too severely for ‘the adult me’ to acknowledge it as a great movie. It’s OK… at best.
Just like the award-winning “Lincoln”, “Hitchcock” is burdened by its script. It’s not enough to put fantastic actors in front of a camera for the viewers to fall in love with the picture. A good movie needs a compelling story even when it brings a legendary person back to life. The story “Hitchcock” tells basically boils down to showing how big of a role in Hitch’s life played his wife – Alma Reville. In essence, the film turns out to be more of a tribute to the woman hiding in the shadow of the master, and it was quite a shadow I might add; a shadow that could house more people than just Alma.
In the end, “Hitchcock” tries to be a love story, but the sad truth is that a good romance needs that spark of uncertainty, betrayal and heat. Instead, we see just a regular couple who’d been there for one another for longer than they could remember. We see their spats and disagreements, the unspoken words of approval and the resulting unspoken grudge that Alma held against her husband, but nothing more… It’s not enough for a good story arc, at least not in my opinion. A decent love story needs to make me care for this couple. I need to feel the cathartic relief at the end, and in order to get me there, the characters need to have a bit more on their plates, if you know what I mean.
I still believe that “Hitchcock” could have been something more than just a hat tipped to Alma Reville. I understand that premise though, because her involvement in Hitchcock’s legend was probably far greater than anyone could possibly fathom. However, the film ended up being just an acting extravaganza. What I find the most ironic of it all, is the fact that the story about ‘the father of horror and suspense’ turned out to be fizzed-out and anti-climactic and if it hadn’t been for Anthony Hopkins and Helen Mirren, it would have gone past the cinemas completely unnoticed.