Nat thought – it’s light, it’s fluffy, it’s sweet; it’s a cupcake.
Before Hitchcock, I’d never seen a Hitchcock. Scandalous, I know. And although watching a movie about the man is not the same thing as watching one of the man’s movies, I’m going to pretend it is.
I actually put off watching this for a couple of weeks, and in the end it was only because I thought – Hey it has Anthony Hopkins in it, how bad could it be? – that I even bothered. I love being wrong. I also love Ant (I’m going to call him this for the remainder of the review, even though I know he prefers Tony, because I’m lazy), or rather I love Hannibal Lecter, and let’s face it, almost every role Ant’s done after Silence of the Lambs has just been like watching Lecter again. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.
I wouldn’t mind if Ant did Hannibal in every role for the remains of his days (see what I did there?). Some people are still immensely watchable playing basically the same role over and over. But a few minutes into Hitchcock and I was surprised to see that Ant wasn’t doing Hannibal; he had prosthetics, a giant tummy, sounded like Michael Caine and kept pursing his lips after he spoke in a comical, Zoolander-blue-steel way. Not that there was anything wrong with that. It was just a surprise. Kind of like when I settled in to watch About Schmidt and suddenly realised Jack Nicholson wasn’t going to be doing Jack Nicholson. Of course, as I explained in my review of The Sessions, this is not always a bad thing.
Hitchcock is based on a book by Stephen Rebello and documents a short period in the director’s life from 1959, when he’s riding high on the success of North By Northwest. Owing Paramount Studios one last film, he decides on Psycho and, not surprisingly, the studio decides that perhaps he’s a bit psycho himself.
For someone like me who only knows rumoured snippets that he was difficult to work with and a chauvinist who allegedly tormented his leading ladies almost as much as he leered at them, this version of him was unexpected. In Hitchcock, he comes across more like an eccentric, slightly demented uncle, in a good way. This Hitchcock is quick witted, a marketing genius and has a knack for plying appropriately terrified performances from his leading ladies by scaring them half to death. And yes, while having an eye for the blondes, he’s portrayed here as strictly “looky-no-touchy”, devoted, in his own way, to his long suffering wife Alma.
And it’s actually Alma who was most interesting to me, a powerhouse woman who was a script writer, an editor and more than capable of taking the reigns of Psycho herself when Hitch falls ill. Besides, it’s Helen Mirren! She’s also on my list of “films I’ll watch just because (insert fabulous actor) is in it”.
Hitchcock (the film I mean) looks fantastic too and retro lovers will be salivating from all the 50’s fashions, cars and furniture.
There’s also nice, small roles from Scarlet Johansson, Jessica Biel, and a blink and you’ll miss it visit from the Karate Kid. Toni Colette is another welcome surprise, someone I haven’t seen in a film in years.
Despite having such big names in it, Hitchcock came across to me as a cute little Saturday afternoon period piece, a new insight into the life of the legend (if we’re to believe this version of the man), something you’d watch on a rainy day, wrapped in a blanket with a massive bucket of
fried chicken popcorn in your lap.
Not that there’s anything wrong with that… right Ant?