Saturday, February 23, 2013

Hitchcock: The Master at Work

Three films that helped to seal my lifelong love of cinema were directed by Alfred Hitchcock: Vertigo, Rear Window and Psycho. So I went to see Hitchcock with some trepidation. Fortunately, it lived up to its promise.

Set against the making of Psycho in 1959, its main element of suspense is a personal one. His relationship with wife and artistic partner Alma Reville provides much more tension than the fairly conventional Hollywood dramas about budget, director's cut or official censorship.

It's a classy cast. Hithcock would have enjoyed working with them, especially the blondes. The leads carry off their parts with deceptive ease. Anthony Hopkins (Hitch) carries the weight of the Master comfortably, except when his paunch retains its iconic shape whilst lying down. Helen Mirren (Alma) and Scarlett Johansson (Janet Leigh) are superb. Tony Collette and Jessica Biel don't miss a beat either.

The film has the 1950s Hollywood look and feel: the studios, the Beverley Hill's house and pool, the beach shack, even the suits. It's bright, clean, colourful, crisp. All part of the American Dream. At times it reminded me of the movie Beloved Infidel about F. Scott Fitzgerald and Sheila Graham, which had similar backdrops and was also made in 1959.

This is one for the big screen. Hopkins' shower scene is at least the equal of the original.