Saturday, 26 July 2014

Psycho

Psycho; thriller, USA, 1998; D: Gus Van Sant, S: Vince Vaughn, Anne Heche, Julianne Moore, Viggo Mortensen, William H. Macy, Philip Baker Hall, Robert Forster, Rita Wilson

Phoenix, Arizona. Marion Crane, a secretary in a real estate company, steals 400,000 $ from a client, but finds an untimely end when she decides to sleep over in a motel after a long flight, where she is killed while taking a shower. The owner of the motel, Norman Bates, hides her corpse in a car and sinks it in the swamp. A private detective, Arbogast, investigates Bates, but is stabbed and killed as well. When Marion's sister, Lila, and Sam investigate the case, they discover that Norman's mother is long dead, but he still has her corpse in his house, imagining she is still alive. Bates committed the murders because he has a split personality and imagined his mother was jealous of Marion.

Gus Van Sant's only thriller - and only remake - in his career, "Psycho" is the closest of coming to a movie equivalent of "human shield": since it is almost an identical frame-by-frame recreation of the original, you cannot attack it from fear of not attacking the famed original at the same time. As such, the existence of an identical (color) remake seems questionable, if not superfluous, since it seems like a reflection of the original, whereas the weaknesses of the '60 film - which were overshadowed thanks to Hitchcock's mastery at the head - seem even more evident here, such as the too explicit explanation of Norman Bates' mentality at the end from the psychiatrist. The performances mostly do not live up to their full potential, but the 1st film was not an "actor's film" either, since it was pure stylistic marvel. However, the majority of the critics were too harsh towards Van Sant, since even if we deduct two plus points from it, the '98 film is still a good thriller with enough style, mood and fine shot compositions to work, with a surprisingly fine Vince Vaughn as the "modern" Norman Bates. Small detractions from the original attracted the most of attention (Bates masturbating while watching Marion take a shower; Lila discovering porn magazines in Bates' room), while some were not especially noteworthy (Lila having a Walkman).

Grade;++

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