Hitchcock/Truffaut Review

“… best compared to a beautiful piñata: The outside is made with so much care and grace, but inside it is empty.”

Last night I watched Hitchcock/Truffaut, a documentary that claims to be about the legendary book “Hitchcock” by François Truffaut and the impact it had on various other directors’ lives. I say that it claims to be about this because my opinions on this film are very complex; so please buckle up and let’s get to it.

First off I want to get the technical shit out of the way so I can get into the real meat which will either make sense or be the ramblings of a mad man. Right off the bat what made me inherently angry about Hitchcock/Truffaut was the lack of labels given to various directors who spoke in the film. During Hitchcock/Truffaut there are many one-on-one interviews with directors about how great Alfred Hitchcock was, and I feel that these interviews would have been more impactful if I actually knew who was speaking. Granted I did recognize a few of the interviewees, but I was mainly just confused. When I watch a movie I don’t generally know what the director looks like. Do you know why? Because the director is behind the camera. I think it is foolish to assume that every single person watching this film will recognize every single director just by their appearance, so it would be helpful to have a small nameplate at the bottom of the screen when that particular director first appears. I can go to any high school film class and have thirty people tell me why Hitchcock was a genius, but for the most part I’ll take what they say with a grain of salt because I know that they aren’t very well versed in film. Reading that back I realize that it sounds really pretentious of me, but what I’m trying to say is that someone who has been making films for their entire lives is bound to have a little more legitimacy when they call someone else who makes films a genius. Of course I recognized a few of these directors, but for the most part I was just being talked at by a bunch of people. If you had introduced them by saying “This is David Fincher; he directed such things as Se7en, Fight Club, The Game, etc.” I could say “Oh, I can see that Hitchcock did have some influence on his work, and I respect what he has to say because those are really good movies”. To have a director whose work you respect, or an artist of a high calibre take off their director’s hat and say “This guy was the best director ever”, you’ll fucking listen to them. It’s hard to listen to someone when you have no fucking clue who they are. I can talk your ear off about why Nicolas Cage is one of the greatest living actors, but to you my opinion doesn’t mean shit. Now if Martin Scorsese tells you the same thing you’ll at least give hime the time of day. I opened this portion saying that this flaw made me inherently entry because it is such a small problem that, in my opinion, would have improved the movie so fucking much.

The meat of this review is something that I know is going to be next to impossible for me to write, and that is the question of whether or not Hitchcock/Truffaut was necessary. Of course you can argue that no movie is necessary, but throwing that argument out of the window for a minute I really have to sit down and ask what Hitchcock/Truffaut added to the original book. Just to be completely clear I have not read the book, but the movie gave me a pretty good idea of it’s contents. For those who don’t know, François Truffaut (director of The 400 Blows, Jules and Jim, etc.) (See? It’s not that hard) sat down with Alfred Hitchcock for a series of interviews about all of Hitchcock’s works. These interviews were then published in book form along with many film analyses to go along with them. The question I have been asking myself is what exactly did the movie add to the book? In Hitchcock/Truffaut we get quite a few audio clips of the interview as it was happening. This is great, and it was very interesting to watch, but the problem is that someone obviously thought that this wasn’t enough to make a movie (I tend to agree). So what did they do? They went to a bunch of famous directors and told them to talk about Hitchcock. Not the book, mind you, but about Hitchcock himself. So what you have in Hitchcock/Truffaut is a series of very interesting discussions shared between Truffaut and Hitchcock, but it is interspersed with modern-day directors going “Hitchcock is great. Have you seen Vertigo? Great film”, and that’s pretty much it. It is cool to have these directors talk about someone like they are just another fan, but after a while the film seemed to turn into this echo chamber. Wes Anderson would say “Hitchcock is great” which would be echoed by David Fincher and then Richard Linklater, and so on and so forth. It’s like two films were hastily stitched together; one about the famous meeting of the minds between Hitchcock and Truffaut, and one that was meant to be a supplementary feature on a Hitchcock box set. The parts that focused on the Hitchcock interview were good, even though they essentially just shifted the media of the original book, but the talking head segments got old pretty fast. One thing I will give Hitchcock/Truffaut is that it was very well made (despite the whole label incident). I felt that both the editing in the film, and the film’s score were absolutely amazing and you could tell a lot of care went into making it.

Hitchcock/Truffaut is best compared to a beautiful piñata: The outside is made with so much care and grace, but inside it is empty. The parts of the film after which it was named were well done, but then it was padded out with a lot of pointless interviews with modern-day directors that essentially devolved into just repeating “Hitchcock is great”.

I give Hitchcock/Truffaut a B

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