GIRL IN FRENZY
This HBO film reveals a behind-the-scenes look at the relationship between Alfred Hitchcock (Toby Jones) and Tippi Hedren (Sienna Miller) while they were working on Birds and Marnie. Hitchcock was known to have an obsession with his blonde haired leading ladies and this movie reveals the dark side of it. It’s based on Donald Spoto’s book, Spellbound by Beauty: Alfred Hitchcock and His Leading Ladies.
It took me awhile to actually sit down to watch this. I have heard the stories before but all the stories have always seemed inconsistent to me. Joan Fontaine and Ingrid Bergman have said they had a good experience working with him. Eva Marie Saint had a more difficult time. As for Grace Kelly, the fact that she went off to marry the Prince of Monaco pissed him off. The truth of the matter is Tippi Hedren isn’t much of a household name outside of the Hitchcock films.
The movie definitely has a darker tone to it. Sure, obsession isn’t really a comedic subject but Hitchcock always did seem funny in his own droll way. Anthony Hopkin’s portrayal of the famed director will be out tomorrow in limited release so I’d like to make a comparison between the two actors later. As for Toby Jones, while he does a decent job of getting the accent down, his movements and stance seem more like the actor’s own rather than getting a handle of Hitchcock’s.
He also plays Hitchcock as an underhanded sociopath. While he could have definitely been all of these things in real life, the movie felt a bit one-sided as we mostly get to see the story from Tippi’s point of view.
As for Tippi, I was actually really impressed at Sienna Miller’s portrayal of her was a dead ringer for the real thing. From her accent to her facial expressions, she dug deep into the actress’ psyche. She was so effective in making you understand how Tippi Hedren must have felt and what she would have seen. Maybe a little too effective.
The pacing of the movie felt a bit long and a little contrived at times. The time spans from the production of the Birds and then to Marnie. While it’s important to see all of this, I felt that we spent too much time on the Birds that when we finally get to the premiere of that movie and then their subsequent project, I began to tune it out.
The point that Hitchcock was this overbearing force was drilled in way too much and Hitchcock is only seen in this one light. He’s the villain in this movie who doesn’t really deserve any pity. Is it a fair way to assess of the man? I’m not here to judge that.
But what I know is that the movie makes its point and then makes it again and again from a single point of view. Even Hitchcock’s wife, Alma (Imelda Staunton), barely influences the storyline and I think that’s just a waste of Imelda Staunton’s talent.
Despite that, the film makes an interesting cinematography choice by incorporating that vintage 60’s film look. The look itself reminds me of Vertigo with that technicolor and perhaps even resembles the pacing of the film.
The idea of Vertigo fits with the psyche of this film as that movie is also about obsessive behavior. It’s just that you can’t help walking away from The Girl without feeling uneasy.