What could have been an intriguing look at how Alfred Hitchcock created one of his most iconic masterpieces is instead turned into a gently entertaining romp. We may enjoy watching the twists and turns as this troubled project takes shape, but the script simply never breaks the surface or gives its stars any real depth to play with. So in the end, the most engaging thing about the film ends up being the portrayal of Hitchcock's marriage.
The story starts with the 1959 premiere of North by Northwest, a hit that critics dismissed as more of the same from a master resting on his laurels. So Hitchcock (Hopkins) decides to give them something unexpected, and takes his first foray into horror based on the little-known novel Psycho, a fictionalised story about a real serial killer. Working closely with his wife Alma (Mirren) on every aspect of the film, he is in constant conflict with the studio chief (Portnow) and the chief censor (Smith), who both believe the material is too strong. Meanwhile, Alma is tired of him flirting with his leading ladies (Johansson and Biel), so she takes a side job with a writer (Huston) who wants to be more than friends.
Oddly, neither director Gervasi (Anvil) nor writer McLaughlin (Black Swan) seems interested in getting beneath the surface of their central character, so Hitchcock is little more than the jovial caricature we saw in his TV anthology series. Hiding under layers of prosthetic face and body fat, Hopkins is good but never seems to break a sweat in the role. Which leaves Mirren to steal the film as Alma, mainly by departing from reality to create a more intriguing movie character instead. And Collette adds some spice as Hitchcock's assistant. But as the cast of Psycho, Johansson (as Janet Leigh), Biel (Vera Miles) and D'Arcy (Anthony Perkins) are only given small details to define them, which leaves them lurking uninterestingly around the edges.
Continue reading: Hitchcock Review
After being confined to a mental asylum for 17 years, Grace B Jones gets released following years of abuse and torment at the hands of mental health nurses. She goes to live with her brother Landy Bretthorse, his wife Bea and two young girls in Boonville, Missouri despite Bea's concerns about her instability particularly around the children. Although Grace seems a nice, friendly person and treats the girls kindly, she has regularly bouts of hysteria which first come about after a boat accident during the calamitous 1951 flood. Is there enough of Grace left to save? Or will the household conclude that sometimes a broken woman is beyond repair?
'Saving Grace B Jones' is based on a true story surrounding first time feature film director Connie Stevens' childhood in the fifties when she was sent away from her home in Brooklyn to Missouri to live with family friends after witnessing a brutal murder. She was to find, that summer, that that terrible crime was not the thing that would have the biggest effect on her the rest of her life. This shocking drama has been co-written by Jeffry Elison in his screenwriting debut and first premiered in 2009 at the Philadelphia Film Festival/Cinefest. It is now available to see in theaters everywhere now.
Director: Connie Stevens
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