Hitchcock (12A)

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The ViewLondon Review

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Review byMatthew Turner07/02/2013

Four out of Five stars
Running time: 98 mins

Smartly directed and sharply written, this is an entertaining, emotionally engaging drama with a pair of tremendous performances from Anthony Hopkins and Helen Mirren.

What's it all about?
Directed by Sacha Gervasi, Hitchcock traces the production of Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho and examines the relationship between Hitchcock (Anthony Hopkins) and his wife Alma Reville (Helen Mirren), who was his largely unsung collaborator throughout his career. The film begins in 1959 as Hitchcock becomes obsessed with both Robert Bloch's novel Psycho and the real-life story of serial killer Ed Gein that inspired the book. However, when he announces his intention to make Psycho his next film, he encounters resistance from both studio boss Barney Balaban (Richard Portnow) and chief censor Geoffrey Shurlock (Kurtwood Smith).

Deciding to bankroll the film himself, Hitch presses on with the project and soon Psycho is underway, shooting with Janet Leigh (Scarlett Johansson), Anthony Perkins (James D'Arcy) and Vera Miles (Jessica Biel). At the same time, Alma grows tired of Hitchcock's constant obsessions with his leading ladies and begins a flirtation of her own with old friend Whitfield Cook (Danny Huston), after he asks her to collaborate on a script with him.

The Good
Hopkins is excellent as Hitchcock, nailing both his physical presence (with the aid of an impressive fat suit) and his distinctive voice, while also giving a good impression of Hitch as a man of contradictions, obsessed with his leading ladies but also deeply in love with his wife. Helen Mirren is equally good as Alma, generating strong chemistry with both Hopkins and Huston (her scenes with the latter are quietly heartbreaking), while there's strong support from Johansson, Biel and Toni Collette as Hitch's secretary Peggy.

Gervasi does a good job of balancing the behind-the-scenes Making Of Psycho elements with the surprisingly moving love story between Hitchcock and his wife (Hitch always gave Alma credit for their collaborations in person, yet that story remains largely untold, so this film redresses that balance somewhat). In addition, the production design work is impressive throughout, though some of the directorial gimmicks (framing the film like an episode of Alfred Hitchcock Presents) work better than others (Hitchcock's imagined conversations with Ed Gein).

The Great
The film is packed with clever touches, including eight specific moments that are either lifts from Hitchcock films or clever references; there's even an actual Hitchcock cameo, in the form of a photograph (one senses Hitch would have approved). The only real problem with the film is that James D'Arcy gets rather short-changed in the behind-the-scenes department and only appears in a couple of scenes, which is a shame, as his resemblance to Perkins is uncanny and deserves to be explored further (someone should sign him up to a Perkins biopic immediately).

Worth seeing?
Hitchcock is an enjoyable, emotionally engaging and superbly acted drama that's also something of a treat for Hitchcock fans. Recommended.

Film Trailer

Hitchcock (12A)
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Content updated: 12/12/2017 02:26

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