The Girl

Movie review by
S. Jhoanna Robledo, Common Sense Media
The Girl Movie Poster Image
Hitchcock biopic reveals dark side of acclaimed director.
  • NR
  • 2013
  • 90 minutes

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Standing up for yourself, especially against someone much more powerful, can be difficult, and doesn't always have a happy ending. Actress Tippi Hedren must fend off the unwanted advances of director Alfred Hitchcock, and her career suffers.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Hitchcock abuses his position as a well-regarded director by attempting to seduce a young actress, and then punishes her when he's rebuffed. It's classic sexual harassment, though it seems like it wasn't that unusual at that period in Hollywood.

Violence

Hitchcock is a menacing figure, on and off the set. He seems to direct some scenes in ways that will inflict actual harm, mental and physical. For example, he demands dozens of takes of a crucial scene that includes real birds attacking an actress and pecking at her face, probably more takes than necessary. An older man tries to kiss a young actress as she sleeps and she must fend him off.

Sex

Numerous scenes feature lines that may or may not be sexual innuendo, and certainly seem both suggestive and creepy. An actress is asked to kiss a man during a screen test, and it lingers longer than seems necessary.

Language

A few derogatory words, including "moron."

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Hitchcock is frequently seen with a cigar in hand, and other characters smoke cigarettes. Many scenes feature people drinking, often to celebrate important milestones with wine, champagne, and martinis. The director gets quite drunk in one scene and has to be helped home.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that The Girl brings to the screen the experiences of actress Tippi Hedren while working with iconic Hollywood director Alfred Hitchcock. As such, their interactions, often unpleasant and sometimes disturbing, are viewed through her eyes, creating a depiction that Hitchcock fans may find upsetting or even dispute. There's no graphic violence; instead, what exists here is an underlying menace that builds to a dynamic that could be discomfitting and intense for younger teens and tweens. (He apparently was obsessed with her.) Expect a bloody but not gory scene at a movie set; lots of period-appropriate smoking and drinking; and some emotionally torturous back-and-forth.

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What's the story?

The actress Tippi Hedren (Sienna Miller) was director Alfred Hitchcock's (Toby Jones) muse in two legendary films: The Birds and Marnie. From a distance, their relationship may have appeared serendipitous and symbiotic -- an artist discovering, and growing from the discovery of, his inspiration. But in THE GIRL, it's clear (at least based on a book by Donald Spoto that inspired the film) that something was seriously afoul in the dynamic. Here, Hitchcock appears as an obsessed, manipulative, sometimes creepy genius who may have brought Hedren fame and fortune, but also a great deal of duress, all under the watchful gaze of his wife, Alma (Imelda Staunton).

Is it any good?

The look and feel of The Girl evokes a different time in Hollywood, and that's one of a few pleasures the movie offers. It sneaks us immediately behind the scenes of the making of two iconic movies, The Birds and Marnie. Who can resist such an opportunity? Setting aside any ability to know for certain what exactly went on between Hedren and Hitch, the film does an artful job of capturing a time and a place, and the growing destructiveness of two people's dynamic.

Jones sometimes seems as if he's playing Hitchcock, the legendary director, versus Hitchcock the man, but we believe him enough, nonetheless. And Miller? She may not have perfected Hedren's carriage -- she still reads "Sienna" in some scenes -- but she transmits Hedren's terror all too jarringly well.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about abuse. What's the difference between physical and emotional abuse? How can you tell if a relationship has become unhealthy? How does Hitchcock hurt Hedren?

  • Does this depiction change your opinion of Hitchcock or of his films?

Movie details

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