Monday, December 10, 2012
Fame is often the cruelest fate inflicted upon an artist, as Sacha Gervasi’s Hitchcock so aptly, if unwittingly, proves. This film may very well represent a turning point in the history of Alfred Hitchcock in popular culture, when knowledge of the director’s personality outstrips knowledge of the director’s films. Note the moment in the film when Hitchcock disdainfully remarks upon “that television show,” lamenting how it has cheapened him. So why would Gervasi use the familiar theme to Alfred Hitchcock Presents and even frame the story—about the marital tensions between Hitchcock and wife Alma Reville during the filming of Psycho—much like an episode of the series? Because that’s what the public will recognize, of course. Hitchcock has become an oversized personality that an actor can slip into as readily as the fat suit Anthony Hopkins dons for the part. By equating the man’s public persona to his private life, the film makes a muddle of itself, while Gervasi’s flat-footed style is a poor substitute for his subject’s graceful orchestration of images. With so little insight into the primal, unsettling Psycho on display, all the film can offer is the faint voyeuristic thrill of gossiping about dead people. The stale odour of ossified art that so distinctly emanates from the screen is more noxious than anything out of the basement of the Bates home.