Film Review – The Girl
Julian Jarrand’s The Girl offers a compelling insight into a side of Alfred Hitchcock that audiences may find uncomfortable to watch.
Set during the filming of his thriller The Birds, the film displays Hitchcock’s (Toby Jones) sexual obsession with the film’s beautiful leading lady Tippy Hedren (Sienna Miller).
Written by Gwyneth Hughes, the film is based on the Donald Spoto Hitchcock biography Spellbound by Beauty: Alfred Hitchcock and His Leading Ladies, as well as information given by Hedren in interviews about her time being directed by Hitchcock.
The director’s expert manipulation of beauty on screen is well known, you just have to see the films of his peak to realise that, but The Girl displays Hitchcock’s fixation with beauty to have a darker and sinister characteristic.
This film is far from kind to the director. The manifestation of Hitchcock’s obsession with Hedren is uncomfortable to watch; his inappropriate and sleazy behaviour is cringe-worthy and seems so ill-fitting to a man audiences around the world associate with such artistic genius.
“Hitch”, as he liked to be known, is portrayed as manipulative and egotistical, yearning for Hedren to find him attractive and reacting maliciously when his approaches are rebuffed.
Jones and Miller both deliver stand-out performances in the lead roles, but are accompanied by a typically classy and understated delivery by Imelda Staunton as Hitchcock’s long suffering wife and collaborator, Alma.
Jones’ intelligent performance adds pathos to a character that otherwise does little to develop an empathetic relationship with the audience, whilst Miller manages to convey a vulnerability and determination in Hedren that compels you to want her to succeed.
The Girl is beautifully shot, with scenes of Hitchcock walking down the dark corridors of his LA studio or sitting alone in his screening room conveying a loneliness that comes with the pain of unrequited love.
The Girl captures 1960s Hollywood well, with enough iconography to satisfy any film buff. But whilst its aesthetics may tickle their fancy, the film’s depiction of one of the industry’s all-time greats may leave them with a sour taste.