By Gary Murray

Starring Anthony Hopkins, Helen Mirren and Scarlett Johansson

Written by John McLaughlin and based on the non-fiction book by Stephen Rebello

Directed by Sacha Gervasi

Running time 93 min

MPAA Rating PG-13

Selig Film Rating Matinee


Arguably, Alfred Hitchcock is the first true Auteur director.  The man made some of the greatest films of all time, works that include Strangers on a Train, The Trouble with Harry, Rear Window, Dial M for Murder and Vertigo.  Many consider his greatest work to be Psycho.  In the movie Hitchcock, Anthony Hopkins takes on a portrayal of the iconic man.

The film starts with a murder.  Set in the world of the television show Alfred Hitchcock Presents, we get an introduction to the stalwart film-maker.  He is a man who has just had one of the biggest successes of his career with North by Northwest starring the biggest name on the planet Cary Grant.  The man is being praised worldwide but he is bored.  Everyone at Paramount is pushing him to ride on that success and make another film just like the last one. 

Alfred wants to go in a different direction and do something that fans his creative spark.  He stumbles upon the book Psycho and immediately senses that it should be his next project.  His wife Alma Reville (Helen Mirren) considers the work filth and not something that the studios would approve. 

As the film plays out, the audience finds out how important Alma has been to the work of Alfred Hitchcock.  She understands his creative flairs and his weaknesses.  She knows that he is a voyeur and becomes enamored with his leading ladies.  She supports him, both the good and the bad, but lives in his large shadow. 

More than once, we are shown the travails of Hitchcock in the making of this film.  He has to fight first with the studio, then with the censors.  They all think that this will be Hitchcock’s folly, the film that destroys his career. 

The film is set at the end of the Motion Picture Production Code, a series of laws film-makers had to endure in order to have a picture shown on screens.  There are arguments between different entities on how much violence and nudity exist in the print of Psycho.

The film is also of Alma and her relationship with another writer.  They are working on a script at his hideaway beach house.  Alfred senses that his wife may be cheating on him but has not definite proof.  The film is just as much about the endurance of marriage than the making of a movie.  Alma and Alfred have been together for a very long time and understand each others weaknesses.  In the end, they are still bonded together by mutual respect.

Anthony Hopkins is one of the greatest actors on the planet but this is not his best role.  At times the film feels more like a SNL impersonation than a true grasp of the complexities of the role.  Yes, he has the moves and mannerisms down pat but it is just not Alfred Hitchcock. 

Helen Mirren is the biggest reason to catch Hitchcock.  Her portrayal of Alma Reville is one of the best of the year.  She is the dutiful wife and the keeper of secrets, the woman who knows both the genius of her husband and his foibles.  Where the world sees the iconic image, she sees the man. 

The actual making of Psycho is shown from the finding of the actors to the final triumphant release of the film.  Scarlett Johansson plays Janet Leigh, Jessica Beil plays Vera Miles and James D’Arcy is Anthony Perkins.  All do a solid job especially Jessica Beil who shows that she is more than just a pretty face.    

Director Sacha Gervasi captures both the time and place with a sure eye.  There is this feeling that the audience is seeing a film more of that era than a film presenting the era.  He keeps the film going at a brisk pace without feeling rushed.  But there is this feeling that there should be more introspective aspects to the work.    

Hitchcock is a good movie but not a great film.  It has a strong cast and some thrilling moments but it feels like it is more for the fanatics of Hitchcock than the masses.  It is not going to be the film reaps a mountain of Oscar gold.  It paints a very loving picture of the iconic figure, looking at the man through some seriously rose colored glasses.



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