If you believe Tippi Hedren's side of the story — as told in the TV film "The Girl" (9 p.m. Saturday, HBO) — iconic director Alfred Hitchcock had a dark side that rivaled anything he put in his movies.
Hitchcock (many merely referred to him as "Hitch") held an obsession with Tippi that went beyond sexual harassment. His attraction was deep-seated in darkness, quiet rage and very creepy.
Of course, Hitchcock isn't around to defend himself against "The Girl," based on Hedren's account of being plucked from obscurity to the spotlight when he cast her as the star of "The Birds" and, then, "Marnie."
But from Hedren's side, Hitchcock nursed an evil that calls to mind Norman Bates, the killer from "Psycho," perhaps Hitchcock's best-known work.
As Hitchcock, Toby Jones has an amazing resemblance to the man, though he resists the urge to mimic his distinctive vocal manner.
Jones crafts Hitchcock as a Hollywood power player whose ego is larger than his waist size and, sometimes, as a spoiled man-child who must have his way no matter the cost.
The latter bit demeans an otherwise stellar performance from Jones and, slightly derails the character as a cartoonish brat.
Sienna Miller plays Tippi, who goes believably from bright-eyed ingénue to scared and faultless victim frightened for her life while making "The Birds."
Jones and Miller are perfectly cast, with their chemistry making "The Girl" a fascinating story.
Cinematically "The Girl" is very much an homage to Hitchcock's filmmaking traits — pleasing to look at and artfully styled. Always brimming, "The Girl" is haunting.
As a total package, "The Girl" outweighs its flaws.
Score: 4 stars (out of five)
Terry Morrow may be reached at 865-342-6445 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
© 2012, Knoxville News Sentinel Co.
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