I'm not writing about The Girl as a fan of Hitchcock, per se, or Tippi Hedren, or as an advocate or what he said or she said. The Birds has been, since my very first viewing, one of my all time favorite movies. The three ingredients that made it so were, in order, Tippi Hedren, Rod Taylor and the birds.
There was something so feminine and yet so strong about Tippi Hedren. I adored the way she spoke, the way she moved and swung her legs out of her little sports car. She was all the things I wished I could be. Critics of The Girl have said she was a mediocre actress, pointing to Sienna Miller's correct portrayal of her wooden performance. I'd like to consider it understated and sly.
As a fan of the movie, knowing what Tippi went through to accomplish those scenes, especially the attic scene, brings tears to my eyes. Why Hitchcock did it is beside the point. That he did it and that she suffered through it and gamely finished the film is what intrigues me. Would today's actresses do the same? I'm not so sure.
We have no way to know if what was portrayed as the relationship between Hitch and Tippi was true, but Tippi hasn't made a point of pointing fingers at him and blaming her lousy life on what she experienced. Quite the opposite, actually. She has noted that she was ashamed at how happy she felt when he died, and has learned not to carry a grudge. She's not supportive of a remake of The Birds because she can't imagine anyone can do a better job at it than Alfred Hitchcock. Essentially, she gives the devil his due.
The Girl may have overstated and dramatically implicated Hitchcock in things he didn't do, or made Tippi look more put upon than she was, but I also enjoyed the nuances that Toby Jones brought to the character of Alfred Hitchcock. If he was using live birds to punish Tippi for spurning his advances, Toby used his eyes to show that Hitch took little pleasure in the results of his abuse. If nothing else, what I took away from The Girl was how very complicated the relationships were between the players, Hitch, his wife, Alma and Tippi. There were no real winners on the inside, but on the outside we were treated to The Birds which, despite knowing the agony that took place during filming, remains one of my favorites.