PG-13 for implied nudity, but mostly for sexual harassment and murder. The movie gets pretty grizzly because, despite the fact that Psycho was a fictional film, Hitchcock embraces its real world roots, focusing on the inspiration that Ed Gein provided. There's sexuality as well, as one of the characters has an affair and the movie surrounds the notion of both the physical affair and the emotional affair. PG-13.
DIRECTOR: Sacha Gervasi
I'm in one of those moods that I really don't want to write. When I was doing this blog years ago, I would search the score of the film I was writing about on YouTube. That would always put me in the mindset of what I was feeling when I watching the movie for the first time. I haven't done that in a while. Often, I find that Lofi study music videos often do the job. But I can't help but put on Bernard Herrmann's Psycho suite to inspire me. So far, it is working.
I don't know how to approach this movie. I mean, I really liked it. I mean, I'm not a biopic guy. I've complained about my fair share of biopics on this blog and I treat them ultimately as skewed fiction as opposed to cold, hard truth. After all, there needs to be some structure to maintain storytelling. But Alfred Hitchcock is an enigma for me. No doubt, he's one of my favorite directors. (This isn't selling me very well, because another one of my favorite directors is Woody Allen, which makes me look like a deviant.) But a few years ago, Tippi Hedren came out that Alfred Hitchcock had sexually assaulted her. I took that as fact because I had never met Hitchcock because that would be breaking the rules of space and time and I love me some rules. But then I brought this up to my graduate film teacher when discussing Hitch in class. She called it all bogus, an attempt by Hedren to get people to buy her book. She claimed that Hitchcock led a life of love to Alma and was a fine and nice man. Well, I was in a pickle, because I always want to be in the "believe women" camp.
But then something like Hitchcock comes along and reasserts the grossness that he may have personified. It's odd, because Hitchcock at its roots is a very sweet film about marriage and the bumps along the way. But the film doesn't want to necessarily worship at the feet of Alfred Hitchcock. Instead, it is a bit of a "warts and all" attitude that surrounds the film. Hitch is still seen as the master of cinema that he has earned as a director. But he's also a man who maybe disrespects boundaries a bit too much. There's no full on sexual assault. But there is this desire to be liked by attractive women, particularly blondes (even if that blonde hair is artificial.) Hitch becomes the antagonist of his own film, often self-sabotaging for the sake of his own fragile male ego. It isn't attractive.
Yet, the movie asks us to root for Hitch and Alma throughout, despite the fact that Alma is playing it more fast and loose with her relationship to Whit in the story. I'm going to pause for a second and look this guy up for a second and see what his deal was. (Aaaaannnnddd I'm back.) Apparently, Whitfield Cook did try to seduce Alma in real life and that's gross as heck. Yet, Alma comes across as sympathetic in this piece. I'm such a darned hypocrite because I know that I would be furious with my wife is she started hanging out with a lothario like Whit, especially knowing that he was just using Alma to get to Hitch. But Hitch is definitely kind of gross. In an era where Harvey Weinstein has his deserved connotation when it comes to seducing women from a place of power, there's nothing that sympathetic about Hitch's abuse of power. He's never overtly sexual. He's not someone who makes a direct trade for seduction. He is just someone who inserts himself into women's lives. It's his relationship with Vera Miles that focuses that inappropriate behavior into something tangible.
So then how is it all touching? I mean, I left this movie completely touched. Perhaps it all comes down to a really well written line. Hitch: "You are the most beautiful Hitchcock Blonde." Alma: "I've been waiting 30 years for you to say that." Hitch: "And that, my dear, is why they call me the Master of Suspense." Yeah, it's corny, but you know what? It's also perfect. Because as much as I'm worried about the toxicity of the Hitchcock marriage, it seems like it is more healthy than it is self-destructive. I mean, I'm not going to use it as a guidepost for marriage advice. But it seems like Hitch and Alma really love each other and it comes from respect. So even though it seems like the A-plot of the film is the creation of Psycho, Hitch's most successful movie, it is really the attempt to save his marriage from falling apart. The reason that we care about the marriage is not just because it is a marriage. It is because that marriage is unique and special. That's the thing that makes the movie worth watching. It's a bit ironic, the fact that Hitch wasn't about the emotions of a scene, yet his biopic uses vulnerability as the lynchpin to make it work.
The Ed Gein stuff is interesting. I don't really buy it. I never got the vibe that Hitch was that divorced from reality that he would have discussions with an incarcerated Ed Gein in his mind. That seems very Hollywood-y. There's something so grim and upsetting about the world of Ed Gein in comparison to the world of Hitch or even Norman Bates. The thing about Ed Gein is that he didn't come across as charming. He wasn't Norman Bates or Anthony Perkins. He was a monster who embraced his own lack of humanity and there is old Anthony Hopkins as Alfred Hitchcock just having polite conversation with him, which is a bit striking. Yet, there is something about these scenes that works with me. I think it allows for us to understand the heightened world of storytelling that we never really get to see in his movies. It's when Hitch tells a joke about the macabre after what we had just seen that we're reminded about how dark Hitch's humor really was.
It's a good movie. I really liked it. I mean, I don't know what is true or not. I suppose that I might never know. So many versions of the story exist out there and I want to believe that he was a noble guy. But he might be as gross as Hedren stated. Regardless, this movie kind of slaps.
Film is great. It can challenge us. It can entertain us. It can puzzle us. It can awaken us.
Mr. H has watched an upsetting amount of movies. They bring him a level of joy that few things have achieved.