Saturday, 16 February 2013

FILM #15 HITCHCOCK (9.2.13)


Sir Anthony Hopkins and Dame Helen Mirren. The story of the making of Psycho.

I'm fascinated by films that deal with the creative process and in particular films about the making of films, like RKO 281, Living in Oblivion, Synecdoche, New York and Barton Fink.

Hitchcock, like RKO 281, deals with the making a real film, in this case, perhaps one of the most famous horror films ever made, Psycho. In its day, Psycho was incredibly shocking and broke not only box office records but several cinematic taboos and conventions along the way. It's also the grandfather of all modern horror films and without it there would be no Scream franchise or Friday the 13th, in fact it single-handily created the slasher genre. Hitchcock fought long and hard to get the film made and in the end had to use his own money to fund it, so on paper a film about it's creation should be a fascinating one.

It's therefore sad to admit that Hitchcock just isn't that fascinating a film. It's not a bad film per say, it's just very pedestrian and lacks any really bite, or depth. Hopkins and Mirren are both very good in their roles, as are the supporting cast lead by Scarlet Johansson, but the film just chugs along from A to H (d'you see what I did there?) and at no time do you ever feel that the film or Hitch are in a real danger of either the film not getting made or of him failing. Problems arise and are dealt with ease, and the insurmountable odds are beaten with no real effort. And in fact most of the film's drama comes not from the trials of making Psycho but from Mirren's almost fling with randy old goat and writer Whitfield Cook as played by Danny Houston. 

Perhaps the main problem is that beyond the filming of three scenes we get no real glimpse of the craft behind the making of Psycho and in the end the film just becomes a series of mild marital problems dealt with by discussion and the odd raised voice.

An interesting effort but no Oscar. 6/10

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