Hitchcock Review: Not Much Behind the Bloody Shower Curtain
The best actors are utterly selfless, able to access an inner truth and generously give of it to others, showing us things that we cannot deny, whether it's the depth of sorrow that Meryl Streep tends to command at the drop of a hat or the conjuring act that transforms Daniel Day Lewis entirely into another person. There's such a wealth of truth presented to us as an audience that we simply can't reject it. They are who they say they are, in these new roles, entirely. Johansen as Janet Leigh, and to a lesser extent, Jessica Biel as Vera Miles in this film, are coy, disguised, hinting at a private life we simply cannot access, we can never partake in. There's a kind of shield always up, and girlish nuisance that screams "This is the bit where I am playacting, isn't this fun?" I am reminded of the scene in Lost Highway where Patricia Arquette and Balthazar Getty are deep in the desert and she plaintively asks "Don't you want me?" and he says he does, and they make love by the light of the car headlights and just as he's losing himself in the moment, completely taken in, she turns cruel and says "You'll never have me."
Don't be dismayed, there's a few delightful moments in this otherwise stillborn film. For all of you Helen Mirren swimsuit fanatics, we are treated to a somewhat lengthy scene of her swimming, tracking alongside her underwater. (Somewhere in Hollywood, Helen Mirren's agent counts his pile of money and rechecks all her contracts to ensure that there's at least one full body bathing suit sequence in every upcoming film.) Fans of Hitchcock may delight in the numerous insidery moments and jokes, and there's a good deal of joy to be found in Mirren's interactions and relationship with Hopkins, but overall this behemoth can't quite overcome the sky high expectations and take on a life of its own.