Red roses, overpriced menus in restaurants that should know better, couples who only come to show the world that they are in love, or feel the need to bombard social media sites with images and status updates that cause nausea, Valentine’s Day may not be everybody’s idea of a good time. Any real romantics truly know that love and gestures of adoration should occur all year round, so if you’re looking for an alternative kind of love affair, Sacha Gervasi’s Hitchcock could be just that.
The film explores the creative pairing of Hitch and his wife of 54 years, Alma Reville, whilst making what some call his most distinguished feature, Psycho.
A working relationship that was an absolute necessity for his success. His wife being his chief critic and champion, noticing Janet Leigh blinking after the infamous shower death sequence and protesting for the inclusion of Hermann’s orchestral score during the scene that did indeed leave audiences screaming.
The complexities of two artistic temperaments in collaboration are explored and the dangers of taking things for granted are starkly portrayed. Sometimes, simple gratitude can be overlooked and inner frustrations may bubble underneath but eventually erupt. Artistic partnerships are rendered more interesting when examined under cinematic autopsy, like the Frida Kahlo bio about her relationship with Diego Riveria, this outing does not judge and emphasises things are never always black and white. Behind every successful individual there is generally always an underpinning support mechanism, an individual who pushes, compliments and encourages but at the same time needs to have that function to be fulfilled. Alma Reville is just that.
Helen Mirren’s Alma dominates the screen with her compassionate and modest portrayal of the puppet mistress helping to drive the Hitchcock vehicle. The Rumi term ‘unfold your own myth’, is something that is never more apparent than in Hitchcock. He was the master of hype, long before we had social media, disgracebook, YouTube and Twitter, to raise awareness. Hopkins in his distinctive flair adopts a less-is-more approach with simple gestures and a fixed glare that unsteadies the viewer and shows so much of the inner demons that drove the master craftsman.
Quentin Crisp talked of the cinema being the forgetting chamber, a place to be totally immersed in the illusion, to shy away from all problems and woes. Hitchcock had an astute understanding of how to play an audience’s emotions and etch his films deep into their subconsciousness. Art that would leave an aftertaste.
So for a different date this week, do not be typical and say it with flowers, say it with this bloody valentine.