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The Girl

2012 | 90 min | TV-14 | 1.78:1

The Girl


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User reviews

1 user review

Movie appeal



TV release date

 Oct 20, 2012

Country of origin

 United States



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The Girl

 (TV) (2012)

The Girl Preview  

 / 10
Preview by Brian Orndorf, November 1, 2012

Director Alfred Hitchcock built an entire career out of obsessive control, from his unparalleled filmmaking skills to his pop culture persona, creating a literal silhouette that promised a specialized offering of entertainment ahead. Hitchcock the legend is the stuff of books, documentaries, and conversation. Hitchcock the man is another story, rarely discussed throughout the years, with the sordid details of his work ethic kept to a dull roar while cineastes celebrated his cinematic achievements. 2012 welcomes two pictures endeavoring to expose the helmer’s unsavory side, with November’s “Hitchcock” and “The Girl,” a most peculiar HBO production that really rakes the icon over the coals, and perhaps deservedly so.

After the success of “Psycho” and his time working intimately with actress Grace Kelly, Alfred Hitchcock (Toby Jones) was on the hunt for a new face to photograph, a fresh blonde worthy of his special attention. Pulling Tippi Hedren (Sienna Miller) out of the modeling world, Hitchcock was determined to turn the amateur performer into a star, nursing a crush that would develop into a powerful lust. Commencing her starring role in “The Birds” with all the excitement in the world, Tippi quickly realizes the Hollywood dream would be short-lived, soon enduring unwanted advances from her director, who hopes to possess his lead actress while wife Alma (Imelda Staunton) looks the other way. Avoiding Hitchcock’s touch, Tippi is eventually punished for her disinterest, with production on “The Birds” and “Marnie” dragging into violent areas of humiliation, finding the actress trying to prove her professionalism and resiliency on a daily basis.

“The Girl” doesn’t pull any of its punches. Based on Donald Spoto’s 2009 book, “Spellbound by Beauty: Hitchcock and his Leading Ladies,” the picture is pulled magnetically to the core relationship between Hedren and the renowned director, studying its painful erosion once feelings of attraction and designs of possession are revealed. Director Julian Jarrold and screenwriter Gwyneth Hughes take the assignment quite seriously, treating the calculated pairing as a tragedy for Tippi, who wanted nothing more than to prove herself with a filmmaking master, only to discover a coldly lecherous man who loved to share bloated stories and dirty jokes, conducting his sets from the comfort of his chair. The innocent sent to the slaughter, “The Girl” doesn’t blur the situation in the least, maintaining Tippi as a noble single mother learning to steel herself to the pressures of production and the horrors of its downtime, where Hitchcock would ply his leading lady with alcohol, hoping to loosen her resistance to his charms.

Jarrold and Hughes keep matters blunt, perhaps too much so at times, with “The Girl” coming off comically melodramatic as it probes the depths of Hitchcock’s frustrations. There’s an effort made to understand his perspective, exploring an overweight, impotent general stuck in a marriage he carelessly agreed to long ago, now working with the world’s most beautiful women, with their blonde hair and delicate features intoxicating to a man who considers himself repulsive. Pawing at them, demanding their compliance, Hitchcock abused his power in classic Hollywood form, using the pressures of the industry to coax these fantasy figures into his lap. It’s a disturbing portrait, and however true it may be, “The Girl” doesn’t layer in the process of seduction, keeping Hitchcock just short of a paranoid monster. It’s an interesting psychological study adrift in a picture with a clear agenda to bludgeon the director’s reputation. While the horrible incidents pile up for poor Tippi, “The Girl” is so obvious at times, there’s little sympathy gained, with soap opera indulgences diluting the effort’s statement of impropriety.

Jarrold shows more refinement with moviemaking sequences, establishing Hitchcock’s shameless assault on Tippi during “The Birds,” with a single work day devoted to a mechanical bird attack stretched to five, with real co-stars brought in to inflict the most pain. The terror of such an experience, along with the director’s desire to mold his actresses to his liking, is plainly understood, with silence and stone faces a powerful cinematic weapon when dealing with the war between Hitchcock and Tippi. “The Girl” certainly explores an enticing tale of obsession and revenge, but it seldom trusts the inherent horror of it all, preferring to spell out jealousies and malicious behavior to a point where fact unfortunately resembles fiction.

Starring: Toby Jones, Sienna Miller, Penelope Wilton, Imelda Staunton
Director: Julian Jarrold

» See full cast & crew

The Girl, Forum Discussions

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