- The Girl
- October 20, 9 p.m., HBO
HBO’s The Girl is the first of two movies about legendary filmmaker Alfred Hitchcock to premiere this fall (the second, Hitchcock, starring Anthony Hopkins, opens in theaters next month), and it’s a decidedly unsympathetic portrait of the man behind such classic films as Psycho, North by Northwest and The Birds.
That last one, along with Marnie, is the primary focus of The Girl, which deals with Hitchcock’s obsession with actress Tippi Hedren (who starred in both films). Toby Jones plays Hitchcock as a lonely, insecure lech, who coldly recites bawdy limericks and never cracks a smile (he freely admits to having no sense of humor). Always unduly involved in the lives of his leading ladies, Hitchcock takes that to a new level when he casts Hedren (Sienna Miller) in The Birds and signs her to an exclusive seven-year contract.
The vivacious Hedren both struggles and thrives under Hitchcock’s invasive attention and constant unwanted sexual advances. The Girl is strongest when it shows how Hedren stood up to the revered genius no one else was willing to contradict, but director Julian Jarrold and screenwriter Gwyneth Hughes can’t seem to decide whether they’re making a genteel period piece or a nasty exposé, and both of the lead characters end up underdeveloped.
Neither Hitchcock’s vindictive obsession nor Hedren’s inner strength comes from anywhere recognizable, and despite the sometimes clever references to elements of Hitchcock’s movies, The Girl does a poor job of conveying his artistic talent. It’s just a story about a creepy guy and a pretty girl, and it rarely manages to be more than that.