Feature | Lights, Camera, Action! – Hitchcock

By Derek Winnert 16.02.2013 1

Feature | Lights, Camera, Action! – Hitchcock on Nintendo gaming news, videos and discussion

Lights, Camera, Action! - Hitchcock (UK Rating: 12A)

It's 1959, and Alfred Hitchcock is at the peak of his creative powers and popularity, with the huge success of North by Northwest and his TV show. However, he's getting older - he's 60, and no wiser - he's having a creative block and can't come up with a new project. Then the idea of filming the lurid, best-selling thriller novel Psycho comes to him, haunts him and truly inspires him. The film studio won't touch a trashy horror movie, though, and the only way ahead would be to take a big risk to mortgage his mansion and finance it himself.

Meanwhile, on the home front, his wise and wonderful wife, confidante and collaborator, Alma (Dame Helen Mirren), is getting fed up with Hitchcock's endlessly roving eye and crazy obsessions with his blonde leading ladies and starts to desert him to help another writer-director, the suave and charming Whitfield Cook.

Based on Stephen Rebello's 1990 book, Alfred Hitchcock and the Making of Psycho, director Sacha Gervasi's film is a total treat! Unlike the recent TV film about Hitchcock The Girl, which tried to assassinate the director's character and forgot to mention his genius, this is warm, generous, complex, intelligent and appealing - and lots of fun. It provides a proper warts-and-all tribute to Alfred Hitchcock and his wife Alma and not a sensationalist hatchet job.


 

Not at all perfectly cast but absolutely ideal anyway, those national institutions Anthony Hopkins and Helen Mirren are twin delights as the bickering star couple; indeed all the cast are great. Even if they never look or sound much like the originals (Scarlett Johansson is certainly no Janet Leigh and Jessica Biel no Vera Miles either), it doesn't matter as they brilliantly capture the spirit of their characters and evoke all the old ghosts and memories.

John J McLaughlin (Black Swan) provides a truly excellent, classy script that manages to be informative, funny and touching. Obviously a lot of the story and dialogue is totally made up and this might frustrate film buffs looking for a more factual, documentary-style approach, but hey, it's only a mooovie, Ingrid!  Clearly nobody has any idea what the Hitchcocks said to each other in the privacy of their own home and this forms the main basis of the material, but the script nevertheless has the feel of truth and seems like an insider's view, persuading watchers that this is how it must have been. Hoppy and Helen have some great dialogue to chew over and spit out and they relish it like the great old professionals they are.

There are some surprises; did Alma really take over the direction of Psycho when a stressed-out Hitch grew ill for a few days? Where is Saul Bass in the story, the 'pictorial consultant' who designed the title credits and supposedly filmed the infamous shower sequence? Also, were the mentions of the Hitchcocks' actress daughter Patricia, who appears in Psycho, missed somewhere along the lines? The script also implies the Hitchcocks had a sex-free marriage. Why?


 

The Psycho story is based on a real-life case about the infamous serial killer Ed Gein, and the film shows Hitch wandering about with him in dreamlike sequences. However, the risky inclusion of this Ed Gein stuff works very effectively and adds another layer to the film. This is a prime example of how this multi-layered, textured film relishes its ambition and imagination.

Technically, too, this is one heck of a fine, polished movie. There's a glorious Danny Elfman score, delicious production and glossy cinematography by Jeff Cronenweth and Oscar-nominated work on the make-up and hair that makes things look very stylish. The period atmosphere and the movie-making and California backgrounds feel right, all achieved gracefully with effective understatement. The opening and end credits are also extremely smart, again without seeming to try too hard.

8/10
Rated 8 out of 10

Great - Silver Award

Rated 8 out of 10
After a brilliant 98 minutes, it almost feels like being cheated when the movie stops, with watchers ultimately wanting loads more and it is certainly something that should be watched again. Being better done or having a better tribute to an all-time great, favourite director surely is impossible.

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I didn't expect to enjoy this one that much, but it was actually really well filmed and written. It took what could have been rather boring source material and jazzed it up just enough to make it intriguing viewing.

Adam Riley [ Operations Director :: Senior Editor :: Cubed3 Limited ]
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