HBO Review: The Girl (2012)
Directed by: Julian Jarrold
Written by: Gwyneth Hughes (Based on the book "Spellbound By Beauty" by Donald Spoto
Sienna Miller as Tippi Hedren
Toby Jones as Alfred Hitchcock
Imelda Staunton as Alma Hitchcock
Carl Beukes as Jim Brown
Penelope Wilton as Peggy Robertson
HBO's The Girl depicts a side of Alfred Hitchcock that not many knew existed. The film follows the relationship between "Hitch" and one of his famous blondes, Tippi Hedren. Hedren starred in his classic film, The Birds, and this biopic details the events surrounding the film. Screenwriter Gwyneth Hughes carefully researched each detail of the story in an attempt to give as accurate a portrayal as possible.
After Hitch's favorite blonde, Grace Kelly, marries the prince of Monaco, he finds himself in need of another ingenue. For reasons never quite explained, he felt that blondes make the best victims. After his wife, Alma, sees Tippi in a commercial, he decides to meet her and cast her as "Melanie" in the birds.
In his interactions with her, he is creepy and weird, with his expressionless face and his monotone voice. He also had a strange predilection for telling crude limericks at the most inappropriate moments. After he tries to force himself on Tippi in the back of a limousine, she realizes that she has a big problem on her hands. He begins to nearly stalk her, calling her home at all hours and disrupting her time with her child (actress Melanie Griffith). She makes it clear that she wants nothing to do with having a sexual relationship with him, but it is no use. The more she resists, the more obsessed he becomes with her.
Meanwhile, he begins to take revenge on her while on the set. During a famous scene in which Hedren's character is attacked by birds, she is assured that the shooting will only last one day and that mechanical birds will be used. Instead, the shooting takes five grueling days in which she is repeatedly attacked by real birds. Each day she has to be carried from the set, bloody and nearly incoherent. A physician has to step in and insist on stopping the filming for one week for her to recuperate.
As time goes on, Tippi begins to suffer severe emotional trauma culminating in nightmares and exhaustion. In an attempt to remake herself, she colors her hair brown. But she feels even more lost after that. She confides to a friend on set that she feels as if Hitch wants to get inside her, so deeply that she is no longer herself and he is looking out through her eyes.
After begging his wife Alma to stop the madness, Tippi realizes that she must take matters into her own hands. In a chilling scene where she tells him she wants out of her contract, he tells her that not only can she not break the contract, but he wants her to be his sexual slave, available at anytime and for anything he wants. When she still refuses, he tells her that he will ruin her career, which is exactly what he does. After her last film with him, Marnie, long thought to be his final masterpiece, she is shunned in Hollywood.
After that, Tippi Hedren devoted her life to her family and to wildlife rescue with her Shambala Reserve in Africa. She showed that no matter the cost, a person needs to adhere to their sense of right and wrong. She could have easily gone along with him and continued to have a successful movie career, but at what cost? I think she is a role model for young women today.
As for the performances in the film, Sienna Miller is luminous as Tippi. She is completely transformed into the graceful, elegant young actress, appearing to even lower the timbre of her voice.
And Toby Jones IS Hitchcock. With the aid of prosthetics and makeup, it is as if the real Hitchcock is on the screen. Just like he did with Capote, he becomes the character. He is so creepy, that I felt sick to my stomach when he would appear onscreen.
I know I'll probably ruffle some feathers, but I have never seen why everyone loves his films so much. The stories might be interesting but they are overly stylized and he forces the actors to be too stiff. Nothing seems real sonI am never really pulled into the story. And of course now that I know what a sleaze ball he was, I'm less likely to want to watch the ones I haven't seen. I might watch Marnie, but only out of respect for Tippi Hedren.
Here's to you, Tippi. As a woman who has met her share of creepy guys, I applaud your courage to tell your story. You are a great lady.
You can catch The Girl now on HBO on demand. Thanks for stopping by and getting buzzed!! Keep coming back!