Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Movie Review: Family Plot

Family Plot was Alfred Hitchcock's last film.[1] When I prepared to watch it, I assumed that the title referred to a conspiracy involving a family. But in reality the title has two meanings—a conspiracy against a family and a plot in a cemetery owned by another family. The conspiracy involves a fake psychic, Blanche, and her boyfriend, George. But, in what I thought was an interesting take, Blanche isn't bilking her mark, an old woman looking for her lost nephew. Blanche actually locates the lost nephew, Arthur, instead of providing a convincing actor. Arthur, as it turns out, also leads a life of crime. He kidnaps important people and demands ransoms in the form of expensive jewels.[2]

My verdict: Family Plot is worth watching once, but I wouldn't watch it again. There is a surprising amount of profanity. William Devane (Arthur) plays his part quite sleazily (i.e. well), but the rest of the acting was unremarkable, with one exception: the actress who played Blanche completely overdid the scene where their brakes get cut. The two plots (1. the psychic trying to find Arthur and 2. Arthur's life of crime) don't blend very well, giving the film a rather schizophrenic feel. On top of that, there is a subplot involving the police trying to track down the kidnappers which suddenly disappears, never to return. The soundtrack was by John Williams, fresh off his success with the soundtrack to Jaws, but didn't capture my attention at all.

NOTE: There may be an allusion to the LDS Church: there is a "First Church of the Latter-day Saints" which is briefly seen.


[1] Hitchcock's silhouette can be seen in a window at a Registrar of Births and Deaths.

[2] At one point Arthur's girlfriend, Fran, kidnaps a man named Constantine. During this scene Fran's costume makes her look like Lady Gaga and the music during those scenes sounds rather like Lady Gaga's music.

Image attributions:

Family Tombstone is by Sherurcij, available at http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Hewitt family tombstone.jpg. 

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