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Hitchcock (2012) Movie Review

December 1, 2012

[Introductory Note: When I first wrote my review, I wasn’t sure how close to reality it was and so assumed that it was fairly realistic because it felt quite real. In case someone is drawn to the film merely for a realistic portrayal of the life of Hitchcock, it should be noted that you won’t find that here. ]

“Hitchcock” is a monumental film eclipsed only by the greatness of the legend himself. The movie goes behind the scenes of the making of “Psycho” and so, naturally, if you haven’t seen “Psycho” you should do so first. (I do hope none of my readers are so deprived.) What makes the film so delightful is the look it provides into the process Hitchcock used when making his films. Sadly this does not include a look at how Hitchcock and Bernard Herrmann work together on a film. The film only briefly hints at Herrmann’s involvement, showing Hitchcock’s first reaction to hearing the iconic violin for the knife slashes. In another scene we are told that Herrmann’s lyrical score will help soften the blow of the stark imagery of Psycho itself.

Anthony Hopkins fully takes on the persona of Hitchcock, with all the screen presence he naturally possesses. At times on the set, the anger of Hitchcock’s directing is truly arresting. Helen Mirren plays Hitchcock’s wife and displays a powerful presence at all times. Scarlet Johansson and Jessica Biel both give fantastic performances as well, fully embodying the Hitchcock blonde look. Toni Collette is wonderful as Hitchcock’s secretary Peggy, largely hiding in the shadows but ever-present and tirelessly working. I wasn’t completely convinced by James D’Arcy’s performance as Anthony Perkins but I suspect he was still the best man for the role.

The film itself is beautifully shot, with natural, vibrant colors. The script in the film is sharp and intelligent, gifting the audience with some scathing duels of words. Danny Elfman’s score is a delightful orchestral work, evoking the spirit of Bernard Herrmann. It is a natural fit for Elfman with so many of his past scores taking on a similar style. It is the first score in a long time that left me saying half way through the film, “I need this score in my collection.” It manages to deliver something even better than his work on Wolfman. “Hitchcock” may be Elfman’s best score to date and is certainly the best score of the year.

Every facial gesture of the characters brings the you deeper into an understanding of the men and women they portray. “Hitchcock” has the playful feeling of a Tim Burton film without feeling disconnected from reality. The music evokes this perfectly, constantly straddling the line between serious and whimsical as Elfman does so well. If you find learning about how things are done behind the scenes in Hollywood fascinating, you will find “Hitchcock” to be an absolute delight. It is truly a love-letter to film-buffs everywhere. It brought me to a magical place that no other film has managed to do and is truly the most delightful film of the year.

5/5

Note: For my readers in San Diego, I would like to say a few words about my first time at the Arclight that recently opened in La Jolla. I was delighted to see that they were showing Hitchcock this weekend because it provides an alternative to the Landmark theater in Hillcrest. Though the seats don’t recline, they were quite comfortable. It was wonderfully convenient to be able to select my seats ahead of time and avoid those god-awful commercials. When you go to the theater as often as I do, the little things can become quite a nuisance. (The trailer for Zero-Dark-Thirty is really starting to get on my nerves as is Regal’s behind the scenes feature for the new Les Miserables. Both films look quite solid but I’ve seen the trailers ad nauseam.)

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From → Drama, Historical

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