Frenzy

Frenzy ★★★½

In the interest of honesty I should preface this review by stating that initially I was going to give "Frenzy" a less than favourable review, but upon sitting on it for an extended period of time, I managed to come up with a more fitting judgment. Though, it goes without saying that the penultimate picture in Hitchcock's long and illustrious career is less than stellar, to say the least.

Unfortunately, in order to find appreciation for "Frenzy" I was forced to whip out my film historian's top hat (yes, I had it made after I watched "A trip to the moon"). Following two films that didn't earn much acclaim and which Hitchcock thought were forced onto him by the studio, he moved back home to England. He wasn't in good health and, at least going by "Frenzy", he must have been very much burnt out artistically.

Although film historians, critics and fans all agree that "Frenzy" is the last of the 'Hitchcock greats', I can't bring myself to love it, not the way I would love "Psycho", "Rear Window" or "The Birds". From the very opening scenes all the way down to the film's resolution, it was nothing more than a regurgitation of his previous work, but without the star power of the actors, and worst of all with a genuinely terrible script. Adapted from a novel, "Frenzy" shows all the telltale signs of the master running out of steam for good.

Nevertheless, let it be understood that "Frenzy" is not a bad film per se, though in context of Hitchcock's best work, it borders on being egregious. The story in itself is well crafted and my only problem is with the dialogue, which sounds odd and stilted, as if transplanted 'on the go' from a novel. I could even go with the sense of humour, the tropes of the wronged man, some of the witty and borderline inappropriate jokes, but it just doesn't gel, not the way it could.

However, "Frenzy" does sport a few moments that are so deliberately and deliciously frustrating to the viewer, which immediately informed me that it was Hitchcock after all who was sitting in the director's chair. Sadly, the fact they stood out as much as they did only testifies to the sub-par quality of the film overall.

This film really proves that a great feature is not built from moments of greatness and little building blocks of talent and flair. It really needs to work as a whole and the story has to sing in unison with all the other parts. Maybe I'm being too harsh and perhaps the fact I'm tearing "Frenzy" apart says more about my own unrealistic expectations, but I truly think someone forgot to put his passion into making this movie.

As a result, watching "Frenzy" is like watching Metallica or The Rolling Stones live in 2015. The music is supposed to be the same, but these people are different and somehow it changes everything. Maybe the solo in "Master of Puppets" is technically the same as it was back in the day, but it is no longer a product of love; it's a job.

Maybe Hitchcock had his reasons for becoming jaded and indifferent, but I can't pretend "Frenzy" belongs together with his greatest work, not without the soul.

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