I tapped out a beginning of a Hitchcock review late last night and then crashed. The plan this morning was to jump right back in, bang out a thousand words or so and move on. Instead I got caught up in a swirl of research and links and photo searches (and maybe denial on some level), and I was soon sinking into quicksand along with Daud from Lawrence of Arabia. And now I have to do a Cristian Mungiu interview so I’ll give it another shot when I return.
In the meantime, Hitchcock has received praise from Deadline‘s Pete Hammond, mild approval from Hollywood Reporter critic Todd MCCarthy and a pan from Variety‘s Justin Chang.
For those who can’t scale the paywall, a Chang excerpt that I mostly agree with: “Loosely based on Stephen Rebello‘s terrifically exhaustive 1990 book ‘Alfred Hitchcock and the Making of Psycho,’ the screenplay by John J. Laughlin (a co-writer on Black Swan) is understandably hard-pressed to accommodate every fascinating aspect of the pic’s production history.
“Still, it’s disappointing that the film never gets beyond a superficial re-creation [and] that essentially contradicts the reality that Psycho‘s limited means, far from exposing the director’s incompetence, in fact revealed the extent of his mastery. As such, Hitchcock offers almost zero insight into the peculiar workings of creative genius, or of the rich, taboo-shattering legacy of the film whose making it documents.”
It’s not so much that Laughlin and director Sacha Gervasi “never get beyond” a superficial recreation as they’ve clearly chosen to go with a series of spotty, glancing reenactments of the making of Psycho in order to make room for the jealousy-and-love story between Alfred(Anthony Hopkins) and his wife Alma Reville (Helen Mirren). As I started to say last night, I respect their decision to try and deliver a fresh take on an oft-told story. The question is whether or not viewers will find this angle sufficiently interesting.