Freelance writer. Melbourne based cinephile. Fond of food.
Published January 13th 2013
Like last year's The Iron Lady, the principal attraction for most people with Hitchcock the film, will be to see a famous actor playing another famous person. There are, however, many other reasons why Hitchcock is a delight to watch.
The filmmakers have wisely chosen a specific point in Alfred Hitchock's career, the making of Psycho, rather than try to sum up the man by presenting his whole life on the screen. This was a pivotal time in the great director's career and Psycho reps a bold move that forever changed a genre and influenced other practitioners for years to come.
One of the wonderful things about Hitchcock for anyone interested in the history of cinema, is it imparts so much information about its characters, the production of Psycho and the film industry in general at the time in such an effortless and economic way. Even for someone like me who has read so much over the years about how Psycho got to be made, this is a hugely entertaining staging of events.
Of course, much of the fun is watching contemporary actors playing movie stars of the past. Scarlett Johansson makes a great Janet Leigh and James D'Arcy is spot on as Anthony Perkins. Admittedly Anthony Hopkins doesn't hold much physical resemblance to the great director, and you never forget that you're watching Anthony Hopkins, but he does have Hitch's speech patterns down pat.
When the narrative strays from the actual making of Psycho and concerns itself with Hitch's wife, Alma (played to the hilt by Helen Mirren) there is a distinct deflation of interest. It's the only aspect of the film which feels like mere speculation. It's an otherwise seemingly very accurate re-enactment.
What's impressive is that the script does not blatantly demonise Alfred Hitchcock. For sure he comes across as occasionally cruel and self-absorbed and treats his actors like objects to be manipulated, but you get a real sense of his fears and weaknesses.
While Hitchcock the film is of a different genre to what Hitchock the man would make, director Gervasi takes a leaf out of Hitch's book by replicating his style in one instance, aptly the filming of the shower scene. It's an effective moment of abrupt emotional violence.
The film also develops a dark cheekiness about it in the latter stages which is reminiscent of the Master of Suspense. It's likely to have you leaving the cinema with a smile on your face and itching to re-watch Psycho as soon as possible.
Totally disagree with you about Anthony Hopkins role..I totally forgot that it was Hopkins he is so brilliant, I only saw Hitch himself. I also would have loved even more about the movie and especially about the star Anthony Perkins, who I agree the actor playing him was spot on. Maybe they will have him do a movie on Perkin's life. He would be amazing.