Rating : 71/100 91 Min
A curious little number about the relationship between Alfred Hitchcock and one of his leading ladies, Tippi Hedren, perhaps especially so as it comes at the same time as another biopic of the famous director – the aptly titled ‘Hitchcock’. Here, Toby Jones stars as the man himself, looking to cast someone for the now famous role of Melanie Daniels in ‘The Birds’ (63). Enter Sienna Miller as Miss Hedren, a model whom Hitch had seen in a commercial and asked someone to go find ‘The Girl’. He would also use Hedren in his next film ‘Marnie’ (64), which The Red Dragon considers to be one of his very best, ranking alongside ‘Frenzy’ (72) and ‘Vertigo’ (58) – in fact, whenever I think of Hitchcock’s work it isn’t the image of a girl in a shower being brutally stabbed that comes to mind, nor James Stewart being dragged into a whirling vortex, but rather the image of Tippi Hedren walking consciously along a train platform sporting a suggestive bright yellow purse, one which contrasts starkly with the dark shades of grey around her. The story of ‘The Girl’ provides invaluable insight into just why ‘Marnie’ feels so unique, and dangerous; far scarier than ‘The Birds’ or ‘Psycho’ (60).
Alfred Hitchcock’s work is studied in film schools the world over, indeed it has been claimed more so than any other artist in the history of film. Yet, the details of this film are revelatory to say the least, not to mention highly controversial, with several of his previous leading ladies decrying the piece as false. None of those actresses, however, can really speak about the events mentioned here themselves, and the screenwriter Gwyneth Hughes spoke extensively with Tippi Hedren herself (as did Sienna Miller) and several surviving members of Hitchcock’s crew. Indeed, Tippi Hedren has publicly endorsed the film as accurate in its portrayal of events and persons. This fact alone makes it an absolute must see for fans of Alfred Hitchcock and indeed for anyone with an interest in film history.
Both leads are very well cast, and interestingly just as here Toby Jones, an extremely versatile and talented actor, is playing a role for which someone else (Anthony Hopkins in the aforementioned and yet to be released in the UK ‘Hitchcock’) may very well get an Academy Award nod, so too did he play Truman Capote in 2006’s ‘Infamous’, hot on the heels of Philip Seymour Hoffman’s Oscar winning 2005 interpretation.