Hitchcock (2012) Directed by Sacha Gervasi. With Anthony Hopkins, Helen Mirren, Scarlett Johansson, Jessica Biel, Danny Huston, Toni Collette and Michael Wincott.
It’s interesting that we find ourselves at a point in time when there are non-fiction films being made about the story behind the making of seminal films. Saving Mr Banks is one other recent example of a film that gives life to the story behind the legend, with Emma Thompson playing P.L Travers, the author of Mary Poppins. Based on the book Alfred Hitchcock and the Making of Psycho by Stephen Rebello, Hitchcock is another, with Anthony Hopkins in the role (and fat suit) of the famous film-director during the making of his celebrated classic.
Whenever you’re making a film about a figure as legendary as Hitchcock, there are certain things that you need to get out of the way – namely introducing the performance. In the very first scene, Hopkins sets his stall by diving straight into character, which in turn allows the audience to settle-in to accepting him in the iconic role.
Hopkins is further complimented by the rich period production design and first-rate casting. In a crucial role, Helen Mirren is outstanding as Hitchcock’s devoted wife, Alma. The idiom – “Behind every great man is a great woman” – fully resonates here as the breadth and depth of Alma’s loyal support (both emotional and creative) are given due recognition. Scarlett Johansson encapsulates the glamour and professionalism of Janet Leigh while in a small role, James D’Arcy almost becomes Anthony Perkins before our eyes.
Essentially, the film is chiefly about Hitchcock and his relationship with his wife – with the story behind Psycho as a stage. Towards the end, the film does become a little foamy, but the many things about it that are both interesting and fascinating might ease you into a more forgiving frame of mind. 3.5/5
This was oddly entertaining, mostly for seeing what kind of mind went to what kind of efforts to produce that kind of horror. I had reservations it might alter how I perceived Psycho (or Hitchcock) afterwards & was grateful it didn’t.
As always – nice review. : D
Thank you. I think “oddly entertaining” is a great way of summing it up. I wonder how many more ‘making-of’ films we’ll see in the coming years. Kubrick would make for an interesting subject.
He would indeed… how would you cast that role?
(Even though it’s a fictionalized “making-of”, I’d be happy with some more Shadow of the Vampire’s as well.)
Who would I cast as Kubrick…I walked right into that one, didn’t I!? 😉
I have faith that Christian Bale has the commitment and ability to pull it off. Robert Downey Jr is perhaps a better actor that we often get to see (Zodiac, Chaplin)…so maybe him too. Who do you think?
I have to see Shadow of the Vampire, but thank you for bringing it to my attention.
Good review Gareth. It was an alright movie that was mostly made better by the cast.
Thank you. Dan. Of course, your’e absolutely right. Mirren is particularly excellent.
I’d go a little lower in my rating, with the feeling that the film never quite reconciles the fictionalised elements with the warts-and-all biopic stuff. That said, I agree Mirren and D’Arcy are fantastic, it’s a shame Hopkins resorts to caricature.
I can appreciate that. Such is Hitchcock’s reputation and distinctive manner, that I think capturing his essence without reverting to caricature at any point must be extremely difficult. The truth is, I’m not sure if it would be possible. After a few scenes, I was happy accept Hopkins, although there were moments where I found myself analysing his performance rather than feeling it. Helen Mirren on the other hand was absolutely tremendous, although the pressure and responsibility of her role was nowhere near as demanding.
As a fan of Hitchcock and Psycho in particular, I can’t believe I still haven’t taken the time to check this out. I’de heard mixed things about this to be honest, but your review (as well written as always) has convinced me to take the plunge even if it isn’t perfect (but what is?).
Thank you very much. Our friend ‘filmfunkel’ described it perfectly by calling it “oddly entertaining”. I have since watched it again and the second viewing confirms this. I hope you like it.