“Hitchcock” gives us a stylish and darkly tongue-in-cheek peek at the professional and personal measures Alfred Hitchcock took when he decided to make his film “Psycho”. Even though his last picture “North By Northwest” was a huge success, in 1959 Studios and backers all turn away when he reveals the grim details of mass murder Ed Gein.
The heavily made up Anthony Hopkins looks more like a caricature of Alfred Hitchcock and his performance reflects this as he stomps around his home and film sets with a charming mix of petulance and genius. Helen Mirren plays his long suffering and supportive wife Alma Reville (they had been married since 1926) with cool level headedness. Scarlett Johansson, Jessica Biel, Toni Collette, and James D’Arcy (with a lovely nervous portrayal of “Psycho” star Anthony Perkins) are all very good in the supporting roles.
My favourite supporting performance comes from Michael Winnicot who plays Ed Gein (his ghost haunts Hitchcock as he struggles to make the unwanted film).
The film presupposes you have some knowledge of Alfred Hitchcock and certainly that you have seen “Psycho”.
Taking that into account we are given an entertaining insight into Hitchcock’s character, how much he relied on his wife Alma, his creepy obsessions with his leading ladies and his battles with Studios execs and the censor board. It is fascinating to see how he understood his audiences and the masterful stokes of marketing manipulation he took when the studio decided to open the film in only two cinemas. Of course we see how he really filmed the famous shower scene.
With all his professional problems there is a heavy emphasis on the relationship with Alma and the impact his film-making had on his marriage and vice versa.
Director Sascha Gervasi stretches this homage beyond the dark humour of the script as he gives the film a distinct feel of Hitchcock’s own style of directing; engineered frights, close ups of telephones being disconnected etc.
I recommend this for fans of Hollywood, Hitchcock and “Psycho”.