Do You Like Hitchcock? (2005) / Thriller
aka Ti piace Hitchcock?
MPAA Rated: Not rated, but definitely would be R for nudity, language, and some graphic violence
Running Time: 93 min.
Cast: Elio Germano, Elisabetta Rocchetti, Cristina Brondo, Chiara Conti, Ivan Morales, Edoardo Stoppa, Elena Maria Bellini
Director: Dario Argento
Screenplay: Dario Argento, Franco Ferrini
Review published August 6, 2006
Sure, I like Hitchcock, but that doesn't mean I'll like just anything that pays the director respect. If you're going to lift pages directly out of the book of the Master of Suspense, at least make an earnest attempt to make a good movie, instead of merely rehashing the more well-known parts just for the sake of easy homage. Asking me the question in the title is like asking me, "Do you like Italian cuisine?", and then giving me a plate of Chef Boyardee. If you're going to tempt with the offer for the very best, don't give me what would amount to the worst film of his career had he been the one to direct it.
For over three decades, filmmaker Dario Argento (Suspiria, Inferno) has been dubbed "the Italian Alfred Hitchcock", for his stylish thrillers (called "giallo" in Italy) that mix violence, sensuality, and a touch of the macabre. Rather than continue to fight the comparison, Argento has chosen to fully embrace it, crafting a made-for-TV homage that incorporates many Hitchcockian themes, as well as many allusions to the Master's best works. Unfortunately for fans of both Hitchcock and Argento, homage was better paid when it was done unintentionally, as Do You Like HItchcock? only serves to remind viewers of how masterful Hitchcock was in the craft of cinema, and none of his many imitators have been able to truly come close.
Elio Germano (Respiro, Unfair Competition) stars as Giulio, a film student that develops an insatiable yen to spy on his sexy, and often scantily clad, neighbor across the street, Sasha (Rocchetti, The Embalmer). After encountering Sasha at the local video store renting Hitchcock's classic, Strangers on a Train, Giulio is startled to find that Sasha's mother has been brutally murdered in the apartment, and with an air-tight alibi, perhaps the film inspired a "criss-cross" killing similar to the one in Hitch's film. Desiring to put a stop to what he believes will be a follow-up murder, Giulio begins to watch Sasha's sexy new friend, Federica (Conti, My Mother's Smile), although mounting pressure from his skeptical girlfriend (Brondo, L'Auberge Espagnole) begins to take its toll in his personal life.
While this is the first official homage to Hitchcock in Argento's career, it doesn't really come across much different than some of his other films that borrow heavily from Hitch's technique. It does constantly bring forward plot elements of Hitchcock's famous films, especially Strangers on a Train, Rear Window, and Dial M for Murder, but the grisly execution and over-stylized montages feel more like it was made by Brian De Palma on a bad day than in one experienced filmmaker's loving tribute to another. Several basic Hitchockian themes do emerge, from voyeurism, doting mothers, and mistaken motivations, but they really add so very little to the film's overall enjoyment factor.
Hitchcock was a visionary filmmaker in so many ways mostly because the things that resonated to him were things he felt passionate about. While many other have studied his techniques, themes, and storylines, those that seek to replicate his films are doing so merely out of a passion for Hitchcock's style, rather than actually feel the same drive that Hitch did for the body of the work and the thematic motifs that occur through many of his films. The result is a film that looks and sounds like a Hitchcockian movie, but never really gives us the same feeling. If anything, it makes us want to turn it off and put in a genuine Hitchcock film instead.
Given that so much of Argento's work has already taken much out of Hitchcock's bag in terms of style and some substance, this homage seems not only late in coming, but to many Argento fans, will seem rather redundant. Hitchcock fans looking for a rekindling of the magic from another master of suspense will find this little more than a failed experiment, coating many Hitchcockian plot devices with glossy eroticism and sensationalized violence. Whether you're watching this as an Argento aficionado or a Hitchcock devotee, you're better off watching the more famous films of either director than this homage that is nothing more than wholly recycled imagery and ideas out of the filmographies of both maestros.
©2006 Vince Leo