HBO’s new original movie The Girl probably disappointed many Alfred Hitchcock fans. The movie explores Hitchcock’s discovery of Tippi Hedren and her participation in his films The Birds and Marnie. Many viewers will be disappointed by the way it humiliates Hitchcock, who was unhappy and vindictive, without really providing any real insight into eithe how he became that person or the director of so many great films.
Initially, it was a bit difficult to adjust to Toby Jones in the title role, and his accent wasn’t spot on; overall, however, his performance gives the viewer a feel for the Hitchcock of that time. Sienna Miller as Tippi Hedren performed beautifully, offering a stiffened performance that definitely feels like Hedren. The best performance, however, was clearly Imelda Staunton’s, who plays the long-suffering Alma Reville Hitchcock beautifully; it would have been nice to see more of her performance.
If you are a Hitchcock fan, you are probably aware of his fixation on beautiful leading ladies, as well as his often odd manner. Of course when you watch this performance, focusing on this narrow time, you might think his entire existence revolved around humiliating Hedren. Was he a control-freak perfectionist? Yes. Was that all there was to him? No.
The Girl brings nothing new to the table for Hitchcock fans, and for those just now learning about his work, this feels a bit like an after-school special. An note at the end of the films states the Marnie is “hailed as Hitchcock’s final masterpiece,” and that seems myopic. If you are not familiar with Hitchcock’s works, you’ll want to see some of his other films before buying into that assessment.
Overall, The Girl is painfully slow and has no earth shattering original information. And it probably isn’t a big surprise that a filmmaker who has masterfully crafted art exposing fear, pain, control, and sexual obsession had plagued by those same traits.