Suspense. Intrigue. Murder. Mystery. All things synonymous with Alfred Hitchcock.
If you don’t know anything about the famous director, you’ve never heard of “Vertigo,” “Rear Window,” “North by Northwest,” “Strangers on a Train,” “Birds,” I could go on, you’ve probably heard of “Psycho.” Or at least seen a parody or reference of “the shower scene.”
A new bio-pic is out starring Anthony Hopkins as the man himself aptly named “Hitchcock.”
The film is set during the making of “Psycho,” but is not about that film. It’s about Hitchcock, his devoted wife Alma Reville (Helen Mirren), and the strain Hollywood put on their relationship.
Now, I’m not entirely sure how accurate the film is, but that’s not really why I go to a movie. Watching a feature film for historical facts is like writing a research paper using Wikipedia as your only source. (Don’t do it!)
I go to movies to be entertained and I got exactly what I wanted out of “Hitchcock.”
The film has some pacing issues. It’s a bit slow to get going and there are times you’d swear you’d been sitting there for at least two hours, and the film only has a 98 min runtime. It picks up towards the end and the conclusion wraps everything up perfectly.
What makes this movie is the style and the cast.
Hopkins, that’s right, Hannibal Lecter himself, gets lost in the title character. He IS Hitchcock. He starts out acting like a petulant child, bored, waiting for his next film project. Then he becomes a man so obsessed with the murders of Ed Gein, who “Psycho” was based on, he starts seeing him and having conversations with him. He goes mad with his compulsive need to control everything on set. And by the end, pulls it all around so you just see the genius of the man.
Mirren, is a perfect counterpart to Hopkins. She’s strong and holds her own and doesn’t get shoved in the background. “Hitchcock” is about their marriage and it takes two talented actors to play off each other and find a balance. She loves her husband, but is tired of his tendency to cast young blondes as his leading ladies and worries he doesn’t find her attractive anymore.
Reville, was a talented screenwriter and editor but was often overshadowed by her husband, in the public eye at least. At home, Mirren’s Reville was everything for her husband and he couldn’t function without her. He was good on his own, he was GREAT with her. She was always that only blonde he needed.
The rest of the cast was rounded out by Toni Collette as Hitchcock’s assistant Peggy Robertson, and the “Psycho” cast was recreated by Scarlett Johansson, Jessica Biel, and James D’Arcy as Janet Leigh, Vera Miles, and Anthony Perkins, respectively.
Collette and Johansson are good in their roles. There’s nothing bad, but nothing exceptional either. Biel, I’m not a huge fan of, but Hitchcock wasn’t a big fan of Miles so it worked for me. D’Arcy captured all of Perkins mannerisms perfectly. It was like watching a younger, better looking, Perkins.
All of them aren’t given much to do and are very two-dimensional roles. But it’s not their story.
I appreciated the style of “Hitchcock” a lot. The cinematography portrayed the golden age of Hollywood exactly how I envision it. Is it romanticized? Probably. But that’s what I wanted to see. The colors and costumes brought the era of 1950’s Hollywood back to life.
“Hitchcock” isn’t a perfect film but as a fan of The Master of Suspense, I was pleased. The film is ultimately about a husband and wife so knowing anything about the director isn’t necessary. The filming of “Psycho” is a nice backdrop and it helps if you have at least seen the original so you can appreciate the parts they reenact here.
If you can find a screening, I recommend it.