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The eerie trailer for HBO's Alfred Hitchcock movie: 4 talking points

The new film chronicles the legendary director's on-set abuses (and off-screen advances) toward leading lady Tippi Hedren, who later claimed he sabotaged her career

This week, HBO released the trailer for the The Girl, an original film (debuting October 20) that chronicles Alfred Hitchcock's obsession with one of his definitive leading ladies, Tippi Hedren. (Watch the trailer below.) The Girl focuses primarily on the notoriously tumultuous filming of 1963's The Birds, during which Hedren claims the director tormented her with erratic behavior, sexual come-ons, and, to an unnecessary degree, actual birds. Here's what commentators are saying: 

1. Toby Jones and Sienna Miller are perfectly cast
It takes a brave actor "to take on the role of an iconic person in history," says Leslie Kasperowicz at Cinemablend, and Toby Jones and Sienna Miller's efforts to embody Alfred Hitchcock and Tippi Hedren "look better than most." Though many critics agree, the highest accolade comes from Hedren herself, reports Jordan Zakarin at The Hollywood Reporter. In a recent interview, the actress said, "When I first heard Toby Jones' voice as Alfred Hitchcock, my body just froze." 

2. But The Girl might be too melodramatic
Parts of the trailer seem "perfect," but it also evinces a worrisome "Lifetime movie quality," says Russ Fischer at Slashfilm. And Jones' take on Hitchcock could easily veer into caricature, says Adam Chitwood at Collider: "I can't yet tell if Jones' performance is the appropriate amount of creepy or just plain weird." If The Girl misfires tonally, it may come off as too corny to be insightful or chilling.

3. And it may not be accurate
The filmmakers adapted Hedren's own recollections of her experience with Hitchcock, so it's unsurprising that The Girl looks to be a strictly one-sided version of the story, exploring "the dark nature of Hitchcock's time with Hedren from the latter's perspective," says Sandy Schaefer at ScreenRant. Though Jones appears "comfortable" playing Hitchcock, the trailer offers "little to nothing of Alfie's motivation or the logic behind his Jekyll-and-Hyde approach towards Hedren."

4. It's a movie Hitchcock himself could have made
In the end, the secret to The Girl's success may not be its performances, but its evocative direction, which goes out of its way to "replicate the eerie tone of Hitchcock's own work," says Britt Hayes at ScreenCrush, "evoking some serious feelings of dread, horror, and claustrophobia." And if Miller can harness the quality that made Hedren such a magnetic presence in Hitchcock's actual films, The Girl may prove to be her "finest hour."

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