Hitchcock: Behind every great man, there’s a great woman
Directed by: Sacha Gervasi
Written by: John J. McLaughlin; based on Alfred Hitchcock and the Making of Psycho by Stephen Rebello
Starring: Anthony Hopkins, Helen Mirren, Scarlett Johansson, Toni Collette, Danny Huston, Jessica Biel, James D’Arcy, Michael Stuhlbarg
Hitchcock, directed by Sacha Gervasi, deals with the difficult, obstacle-ridden process of taking Psycho to the big screen.
The legendary director, despite being an established, respected figure at the time of production, had to fight against censorship, detractors, studios, distributors and even his own demons, both inner (his unhealthy obsessions) and outer (his health, deteriorated by obesity), to be able to shoot and show the film that would be his first foray into full-out horror and that would define his oeuvre from that point on.
But beyond the obstacles and setbacks Psycho had to get over to reach the screen and become a classic, perhaps the most interesting thing this film has to offer is Alma Reville, Alfred’s loyal wife, who also dabbles as consigliere, editor, screenwriter, P.R. agent, reluctant red carpet date and even interim director. Despite narrating a fascinating chapter in the artistic life of a cinematic genius, the most worthwhile aspect of Hitchcock is Reville, an interesting, talented woman that worked tirelessly for her husband’s cause and never got the credit. This character wouldn’t be as appealing if it wasn’t for the great performance by Oscar winner Helen Mirren, who injects life, passion and anger into her role as the wife of one of the undisputable icons of celluloid. Mirren stands out, especially during a marital dispute in which Alfred questions her fidelity.
In the titular role, Anthony Hopkins does respectable work, despite the fact that his makeup is distracting and it never stops feeling like exactly that: makeup. For that, and because both men are so recognizable, Hopkins never fully becomes Hitchcock. In a way, we’re always aware that it’s Hopkins, under pounds of latex and face paint, rockin’ a fat suit. In tiny roles (the movie focuses almost exclusively on Alfred and Alma), Toni Collette, Scarlett Johansson, Danny Huston, Jessica Biel and Michael Stuhlbarg are commendable. Kudos to casting director Terri Taylor for getting James D’Arcy to portray Anthony Perkins. The resemblance is uncanny; I wish he’d gotten more scenes.
The film is a bit too much on the lighter side. Hitch’s insane fascination with his blonde leading ladies, as well as his drinking problem, are barely touched upon, while a lot of time goes into a series of imaginary sequences in which the filmmaker talks to/spies on Ed Gein, the real life killer who inspired Psycho. The only thing these scenes manage to do are confuse, slow down the pace and provide unnecessary padding. But, despite its flaws, which are easy to look past if one’s in the right mood, Hitchcock is an entertaining look into the production of a timeless classic and a fascinating voyage to the cinematic past, one that fans of the “master of suspense” shouldn’t miss.
Glad to see that you got a lot more enjoyment out of this than myself Fernando. I found the lightly humourous tone really grating after a little while. I would have relished a darker comedic streak had they embraced that (already present) side of things but instead they seemed to have opted for the easy gags and they fell onto deaf ears in my case.
Completely agree with you about Anthony Hopkins too. The make-up was so distracting and engulfing that it was difficult to really know how good his performance is – much like last year’s J. Edgar. I look forward to catching The Girl and seeing if Toby Jones fared any better. Then again, it’s Toby Jones so there’s a strong chance.
As a big Hitch fan, I expected something that embraced the kind of style and verve of the master himself and instead I left feeling, all in all, pretty disappointed. So again, glad you were able to embrace it more than I managed to!
Yeah, I had quite a bit of fun but still thought the movie was too light, so definitely agree with you there. And the makeup was very distracting. J. Edgar is a great example of that, Cloud Atlas would be another. I actually felt that way when I watched The Wrestler, except it wasn’t makeup but Mickey Rourke’s messed-up face! About Jones, I’m also looking forward to checking out his work in The Girl and comparing it to Hopkins’s. I actually prefer Jones’s Capote to Hoffman’s.
It’s an enjoyable time at the movies, but is more classy because of the fact that it includes Hopkins and Mirren, among many others, all doing great jobs with their roles. Nice review.
Thanks, man. Definitely agree.
I had been really looking forward to this but every review I’ve read has been rather lukewarm. I still intend on checking it out but I will do so with slightly lowered expectations. Nice review man!
It’d be wise to do so. Thanks, Chris!
Have not reviewed it, but I didn’t like it as much as I hoped. It made want to watch Psycho instead of this movie.
Yeah, it wasn’t as good as it should’ve been. And it made want to watch Psycho too!
I wish this film went a bit deeper into everything. It mostly fell flat for me. Mirren was fantastic though.
Yeah, it was a bit too light. Agree on Mirren.
Pingback: Spotlight on the finest performers of 2012 | Committed to Celluloid
Pingback: DVD Court: Life of Pi, Rise of the Guardians, Hitchcock | Committed to Celluloid