The Birds ★★★★

The San Francisco opening is pretty limp, which had me fearing that The Birds was notably worse than I’d remembered, but once Tippi Hedren arrives in Bodega Bay and Alfred Hitchcock starts conjuring up some coastal town atmosphere, things quickly become enveloping. Characters gain dimension, technical form tightens and the script steadily introduces a treasure trove of subtext (sexual, familial, metatextual) that becomes even more tantalising for its inscrutability. The symbolic significance of the titular birds is kept as frighteningly ambiguous as their motives, with many explanations offered but none confirmed. It’s not one of my favourite Hitchcock’s (despite some great set-pieces and performances), but it’s potentially one of the most stimulating. 8/10 

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