Written by: John White on February 24th, 2006
Theatrical Release Date: Italy, 2005
Director: Dario Argento
Cast: Elio Germano, Chiara Conti, Elisabetta Rocchetti, Cristina Brondo, Iván Morales
Approximate running time: 90 mins
Aspect Ratio: 1.66:1 Widescreen
Rating: Accord Parental
Sound: Dolby Digital Stereo (French and English)
DVD Release: Canal Plus
Region Coding: Region 2 PAL
Retail Price: Eur 19,99
Giulio is a film student and a life long voyeur. He notices Sasha, the woman across the street, when she is undressing one evening and sees her rowing with her mother. He next sees her in the local video shop where she talks to another woman, Federica, about hiring Hitchcock’s Strangers on a Train. A few nights later he hears sounds but falls back to sleep only to be woken by the hubbub of the police turning up later and it becomes clear that Sasha’s mother has been murdered. He becomes convinced that the Hitchcock film has inspired a real-life murder swap with Federica killing Sasha’s mother in return for a later act of homicide from Sasha. He follows Federica and discovers a possible motive for her yet to be completed murder of Federica’s boss. Is Giulio on the right track and has he even got the right Hitchcock film as inspiration.
Do you like Hitchcock brings with it high hopes for making up for the disappointment of Argento’s previous film, Il Cartaio. These hopes need to be tempered with a little bit of realism as Do You Like Hitchcock is a TV movie and primarily a bit of fun for Dario. As an extended homage, the film works well with explicit and stylistic nods to Rear Window, Vertigo, Strangers on a Train, and Psycho. The relaxed jokey approach to the material is occasionally irritating though and lets down the dramatic drive of the film when a head of steam had been got up. The casualness of the dialogue is particularly irksome and the weaknesses here are pointed out by the appalling English dub of the film.
Positively though, the story and general script are as good as any Argento piece since Stendhal. Dario seems to enjoy the homages and the ability to discuss films whilst keeping to a thriller plot. The character of Giulio is interesting, a geeky film obsessive who might remind Dario of himself, and Giulio works well except in the scenes with his girlfriend. The film also has a good murder setpiece – Sasha’s mother’s end is nothing new but after Il Cartaio it is a relief to see it done well. Pino Donaggio’s score is also nothing new but suits the playfulness inherent in this work. The cinematography is again a return to older strengths and not original.
In the end, Do You Like Hitchcock is enjoyable fluff that from any new director would be praised. Sure it is a retread of earlier glories on a smaller scale but it is occasionally sexy, tense and witty. It needs a better English dub or English subs but this is reassuringly good overall.
Studio Canal’s French R2 release is deficient in a number of departments. The transfer is a little bit dark to my eye and given how new the piece is it can hardly be described as sharp which is a pity because there are a few beautiful images here which are not done justice.
There are two choices in languages – French and English. The English track comes with forced French Subtitles which can be switched off if you have a player that allows you to switch subs off completely. If you can’t turn them off the French subs are not that distracting. The English dub is terrible and the lack of any attempt to direct the English voices leads to regular unintentional hilarity. Dario’s own English has never been great but in 35 years of making films for a largely English speaking audience you would have thought he would have found someone who can direct an English dub better than this.
This is not a great DVD package and I would imagine that a better disc will be along, ideally with Italian track and English subs. You don’t need to buy this disc unless you are a Dario completist.