Good evening! The review you're about to read is one for the film Hitchcock, which is a film about the relationship that famous Director Alfred Hitchcock had with his wife and the influence it had on his most famous film, Psycho. You were suppose to read those sentences in Hitcock's famous voice and cadence like he did at the opening of his TV show. If you didn't do a good job on the accent, don't worry because the man playing him in the film, Anthony Hopkins, doesn't either.
Director Sacha Gervasi hasn't done much, infact he's only done one other movie. It was a documentary called Anvil! The Story of Anvil and it was one of my most favorite documentaries of all time. When I saw he was directing Hitchcock I was excited to see what kind of feature film he would create. I was hoping for the same tone as Anvil! but I quickly discovered it was nothing like it and I'm thrilled for that. He proved himself to be very capable of making a light, colorful, funny movie that could appeal to many people including those who never saw Psycho or even knew Alfred Hitchcock that well.
The problem with the film is that it was about something that wasn't all that interesting. Hitchcock's relationship with his wife Alma Reville, played by Helen Mirren, was complex and amusing. The egotistical, pompous, Brit was told what to do by only one person in his life and that was her. The film sheds light on their relationship and how she lived a constant battle with his weight, alcoholism and the massive (literally and figuratively) shaddow he cast on her. He doubted her faithfulness to him and rightfully so, since she was clearly in love with another writer named Whitfield Cook, played by Danny Huston (Clash of the Titans, Children of Men). According to the film, she never acted on this love but the doubt in her is what fueled Hitchcock into making Psycho what it was.
This premise sounds like the makings for a great and insightlful movie but none of that ever comes through in the way you'd expect. All of it seems rather dull and all smoke but no sizzle. Even the scenes where you see Hitchcock making Psycho are nothing new and nothing eventful. The only scene that pops is the filming of the shower scene and how his pent-up rage over his wife's behavior is what made that scene as powerful as it was.
Hopkins, who almost always gives a great performance, has proven that portraying an actual person is just not for him. The make-up used to transform him into the famous director looks like it was done by students of the craft, not masters of it. Even his accent and famous cadence is done in a way that it sounds like Hopkins playing Hitchcock through the whole 100 minutes of the film.
This is not to say that there aren't some fun moments in the film. The entire movie, even the scenes that deal with serious fights and humbled self-doubt, are still carried out with a macbre sense of humor almost as if the master of suspense himself wrote the dialogue. That alone is enough to make the movie entertaining. Scarlet Johanssen and Jessica Biel, who play Hitchcock's bevy of beauties, are perfectly fine in their skills but the characters are written to be paper thin in substance and serve almost no purpose to the plot. They're two wasted talents in a sea of wasted talent that includes the great Michael Stuhlbarg (Men in Black 3, A Serious Man) and Toni Collette (The Sixth Sense, Little Miss Sunshine) as his agent and assistant.
The shortcomings of the film fall on either poor writing or the notion that perhaps this wasn't that interesting of a story to begin with. The whole of Hitchcock is entertaining enough but offers not enough insight into the making of Psycho nor his marriage to make the film memorable. It's a pitty because I was hoping it would be. The visions Hitchcock has of serial killer Ed Gein, for which the character Norman Bates was based off of, are fantastic but feel almost as if they had to be shoehorned into the script to make something feel like it was a peak behind the genius. But the one good thing that you'll walk away with after seeing Hitchcock is a need to watch again one of the greatest movies ever made, Psycho. Or if you're lucky...for the first time.
Hitchcock (Rated PG-13)
Gavin Grade: C+