Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Hitchcock: not so serious



For the final quarter of my undergraduate career (10 years after I started), I’ve been taking a course on Alfred Hitchcock. You may recall my excitement at the release of Hitchcock starring Anthony Hopkins and Helen Mirren last fall. The movie never played in my area and has been available on DVD and Blu-Ray since late March.

The professor for the course asked us to not watch it, if we hadn’t, as she would organize a screening for the class outside usual class time. Then she watched it and didn’t enjoy it. 

I finally managed to watch it (thanks to a free code from Redbox) and I liked it. It’s not groundbreaking in any sense and likely gets many facts of the Hitchcocks’ lives wrong. It may not even be a very accurate adaptation of the Stephen Rebello book Alfred Hitchcock and the Making of Psycho. I haven’t read the book, so I can’t say for sure.

Facts and accuracy aside, the movie was entertaining. Hopkins was fun and funny as the “master of suspense” and Mirren remains one of my favorite actresses working. (A side note—RED 2 is on the way, with Hopkins taking a role in the sequel.) Jessica Biel didn’t get much time as Vera Miles, but that actually highlighted the presentation of her character. Scarlett Johanssen, however, was magnificent as Janet Leigh. Seeing Ralph “The Karate Kid” Macchio for about two minutes as screenwriter Joseph Stefano provided a quick moment of fun.

And that seems to be the point. Anyone who expects a serious bio-pic from this movie is looking in the wrong place. Even scenes that required sustained seriousness have a lightheartedness to them than belied the intense subject matter of the film within the film. 

It’s possible that the film could divide audiences into “loved it” and “hated it” but I fear it is more likely that Hitchcock’s lasting legacy will be one of apathy until it becomes forgotten. Which probably makes Hitch roll in his grave. Love it or hate it, but at least react.

I won’t say I loved it, but I decided not to take it seriously before I pressed “play.” Maybe that helped. Hitchcock is a popcorn and soda movie, not a wine and cheese film. 

THREAT LEVEL: YELLOW. You might as well see it, if you don’t have anything else to do. Or you could just watch Psycho—that sounds like a better idea.

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