Director: Sacha Gervasi
Starring: Anthony Hopkins, Helen Mirren, Scarlett Johansson
Hitchcock opens with the depiction of a murder interrupted by a pan to the infamous director who proceeds to offer the same satirical commentary that he was known for in advertising his pictures. It’s moments like this one that provide Sacha Gervasi’s Hitchcock a fresh, creative atmosphere that help it to overcome the problems of its biopic nature.
When Hitchcock (Anthony Hopkins) rejects studio recommendations in an attempt to do something fresh by adapting Robert Bloch’s novel, Psycho, it jeporadises his relationship with his wife, Alma (Helen Mirren). Psycho offers Hitchcock the opportunity to shoot a film the way he used to providing an interesting clash with the studio-driven production that dominates Hollywood and his life of luxury built upon his established success.
Hopkins and Mirren’s performances are both incredibly strong. Anyone who loves watching great British actors do what they do best will not be disappointed. However, the most interesting aspects of the film are the process of how Psycho was made. Conflicts with the studio, budget, casting and censorship provide the film’s most interesting moments.
Hitchcock is not without flaws. Like many biopics, it suffers from trying to get into its subject’s head. Imagining hallucinations involving Hitchcock and serial killer Ed Gein and re-doing Psycho’s famous shower scene with Hitchcock functioning as the murderer provide the film’s worst moments. Likewise, the relationship between Hitchcock and Alma does require reading about to see how much the film was Hollywood-ised.
The film also comes with a required watching list. Those poor individuals not acquainted with Hitchcock’s filmography will be left in the dark for many of the film’s asides. Familiarization with Psycho, Vertigo and North by Northwest are required to appreciate the inter-filmic references.
Yet despite these problems, Hitchcock does many things well. It has a good focus point for entering into Hitchcock’s personal life and doesn’t try to justify the character’s decisions the way Clint Eastwood’s Edgar or Gus Van Sant’s Milk did. Hitchcock is not likely going to be a big contender for Oscar season, but it is a comic and enjoyable film that is definitely worth watching.
Hitchcock will be playing at Hyland Cinema until Thursday, January 17.