Jan 102013


Anthony Hopkins stars as Alfred Hitchcock, in a film based on the making of Psycho. Can a movie about the making of a masterpiece come even close to such a feat? Find out in my review after the jump.

Anthony Hopkins, buried in prosthetics that resemble custard stars as Marlon Brando playing the swamp thing [jokes],  I mean stars as Alfred Hitchcock. It’s 1959 and Mr Hitchcock has just found his next film project, Psycho based on the novel by Robert Bloch. However, no one else quite sees the appeal of Psycho, especially his wife, Alma (Helen Mirren), who is Alfred’s biggest supporter and muse. The making of them film eventually gets underway despite a series of issues, including problems with getting funding, which in the end had to come out of Alfred and Alma’s pocket, meaning the film has to succeed. And of course, no one is fully on board with Alfred’s vision.

We see the beloved classic Psycho go from the development stages with Scarlett Johansson starring as Janet Leigh and James D’Arcy as Anthony Perkins, to the editing floor where there are more than a few problems. From Alfred’s obsession and past quarrels with Vera Miles (Jessica Biel), to the constant attempts at keeping the story’s ending a secret; Hitchcock emphasizes the struggles of making a film (and a masterpiece), and shows the relationships people had with the man still known as the master of suspense.

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No. Hitchcock is not a masterpiece, but it is a decent film, with flaws that must be mentioned. I felt that it focused on Alma, Helen Mirren’s character way too much. Mirren is a fine actress and her performance here is good, but her character is one that only proves fascinating when she is interacting with Hitchcock. Her moments away from him quickly become tedious. In general the performances are good, especially those of Johansson and Hopkins; however the make-up layered over Hopkins is sometimes times amateurish, and most times terrifying. It’s distracting rather than beneficial. But in saying this, Hopkins somehow overcomes the make-up and still convinces, from the mannerisms to the accent – he does a fine job.

Hitchcock is a slight film, at times feeling like a TV movie in its visual style. Director Sacha Gervasi (Anvil: The Story of Anvil) and screenwriter John J McLaughlin treat this story with a light touch, resulting in Hitchcock being more of a comedy rather than anything else. With the exception of a few scenes lacking emotional weight they really needed, the film largely benefits from this. I was laughing quite a bit, and where a TV movie would have failed and where this succeeds, is the fact that I was made to care about Alfred Hitchcock. In this portrayal you get to see what Alfred’s vision was with the story of Psycho. To put it simply, this is the story of a man who puts everything on the line to tell a good story.

Yes, Hitchcock would’ve been a much better film if it hadn’t focused on Hitchcock and Alma’s marriage so much. Yes, if the film focused more on the making of Psycho, his interactions with the studio and the actors, it would’ve benefited the story as a whole. However, overall Hitchcock is a fun and intriguing film that has more than a few wonderful moments to keep lovers of film, film-making and the master of suspense himself quite happy.

Oh and just on a side note, my favourite Hitchcock film is Rope.


By Chris Elena


The Facts

Director: Sacha Gervasi
Writer(s): John J. McLaughlin (screenplay), Stephen Rebello(book)
Starring: Anthony Hopkins, Helen Mirren, Scarlett Johansson
Runtime: 98 minutes
Release date(s): Australia: January 10 2013; New Zealand: February 7 2013; USA: 14 December 2012