Hitchcock is a breezy and fairly entertaining biopic about the events surrounding Alfred Hitchcock’s life leading up to and during the filming of Psycho. The title might lead one to believe this is an all-encompassing film about his whole life, but the movie takes place over a matter of tumultuous months. Alternating between the production of Psycho and suspicions about his wife’s collaboration with another writer, Hitchcock is most engaging when it’s concentrating on the nitty gritty of Psycho‘s development, as opposed to the potboiler subplot involving his wife that leaves very little at stake.
The year is 1959 and Alfred Hitchcock (Hopkins) is at a career crossroads. He’s sixty years old and some in the press are beginning to wonder if he should hang it up for good. Hitch himself is looking for a new project and direction, feeling as though he’s been pigeon-holed by Vertigo and North by Northwest. He comes across the story of serial killer Ed Gein (played in hallucination by Michael Wincott) and immediately begins pitching the idea to studios. Meanwhile, his wife, Alma (Mirren), begins collaborating on a story with author Whitfield Cook (Huston) at his beach home. Hitch begins to wonder if it is just a collaboration or something more.
Simply put, everything involving the filming of Psycho is fascinating and done with wit and style. Many people forget just how controversial the film was upon release (I mean, come on, this was the first film to show a toilet), and Hitchcock touches on the director’s battle with the censorship board, the infamous shower scene, and Hitch’s relationships with his actors, namely his “Hitchcock blondes.” The off-screen stuff is considerably less involving, as Alma and Whit’s “relationship” is pretty bland and never feels like much is at stake. The dependable Anthony Hopkins is very good as Hitch, and his impersonation eventually does become an embodiment. He does seem a bit over-the-top, but the whole film has that tone along with a classic Hitchcock macabre sense of humor. Helen Mirren eventually steals the thunder as Alma. Her involvement in Psycho‘s filming and subsequent editing is unmeasured. Pretty much everyone else comes in as a bit character. James D’arcy makes an impression as the eccentric Anthony Perkins, and his character deserved more screen time. Hitchcock doesn’t delve as deeply into the seminal director’s life as it could have, but it’s a fine piece of entertainment in the same vein as My Week with Marilyn and other light-as-a-feather biopics that choose action over words.
Studio: Fox Searchlight Pictures
Length: 98 Minutes
Rating: PG-13 for some violent images, sexual content and thematic material.
Theatrical Release: November 23, 2012 (Limited) / December 14, 2012 (Wide)
Directed by: Sacha Gervasi
Written by: John J. McLaughlin. Based upon the book by Stephen Rebello.
Cast: Anthony Hopkins, Helen Mirren, Scarlett Johansson, Danny Huston, Toni Collette