Sunday, 6 December 2009

Frenzy


Frenzy; Thriller, UK, 1972; D: Alfred Hitchcock, S: Jon Finch, Barry Foster, Barbara Leigh-Hunt, Anna Massey

London is ravaged by a serial-killer who strangles women after raping them. A sloppy, seamy man with a moustache, Richard Blaney, gets fired from working in a bar so his friend Bob offers him money, but he refuses. Richard goes to his ex-wife Barbara, but she gets killed by the "tie killer" - Bob. Now the police thinks that Richard is the perpetrator, so he hides at his girlfriend's place. When she also gets killed by Bob, Richard starts investigating himself. Bob frames him and Richard lands in jail. There he escapes and together with a police officer finds Bo in an apartment with a dead wife.

With time, legendary Alfred Hitchcock made more and more shocking films, breaking the taboos he couldn't in the 30s and 40s. When once asked in a TV interview, just a few years before his death: "If you could direct one more last film, what would it be?", he replied with: "Sex". After three shaky films in a row, he returned to shape with his penultimate, strong thriller, "Frenzy", that came as close as possible of him showing whatever he could uncensored, but with a right dose of direction (for instance, in the opening, the London's mayor is holding a speech in front of his public, announcing how he will "clean up the river", but just then a corpse of a naked woman floats at the shore). The story is refined in twisting the cliches upside down: at first, the viewers presume that the serial-killer is the sloppy character Richard, a man with a moustache, because he is unpleasant, crude and aggressive, whereas the polite blond Bob is innocent. And thus it comes as a real surprise some 30 minutes into the film that Bob is actually the killer, since "the first look is deceiving". The whole setting of London in the 70s isn't quite Hitchcock's style, but his humor is always spot-on (a matchmaking agency matched a woman and a man who are both "passionate beekeepers"; the running gag of the inspector's wife bad cooking) and some sequences are genius, like the one where Bob can't get his needle out of a corpse's fist, so he breaks its fingers into a straight posture. An ostentative, intelligent thriller. It was nominated for 4 Golden Globes: best motion picture - drama, director, screenplay and score.

Grade:++

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