Hitchcock (2012)

THE SCOOP
Director: Sacha Gervasi
Cast: Anthony Hopkins, Helen Mirren, Scarlett Johansson, Toni Collette, Jessica Biel
Plot: A love story between influential filmmaker Alfred Hitchcock and wife Alma Reville during the filming of Psycho in 1959.

Genre: Biography/Drama
Awards: Nom. for 1 Oscar - Best Makeup & Hairstyling.
Runtime: 98min
Rating: PG13 for some violent images, sexual content and thematic material.

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IN RETROSPECT


I will never find a Hitchcock blonde as beautiful as you.”

Alfred Hitchcock has always been a very fascinating filmmaker, so when news came out that a film about the great director would be made with Anthony Hopkins in the title role, a wave of anticipation grew among film enthusiasts.

Hopkins indeed has given a remarkable performance as the rotund filmmaker, both capturing the accent and mannerisms of the Hitchcock that we know from his famous deadpan presentation of trailers for his films.

He is backed up by a talented cast including Helen Mirren, Toni Collette, and Scarlett Johanssen, the latter undergoing an impressive makeover that makes her look eerily similar to actress Janet Leigh, who famously starred, albeit briefly, in Psycho (1960).

Directed by Sacha Gervasi, Hitchcock is his second feature to date, after the critical success of the documentary Anvil: The Story of Anvil (2008). As a period film, Hitchcock is well-done and pays attention to detail. At times, the setting almost seems stage-like, as if the shooting locations were constructed solely for the film.

This is especially so in scenes that focus on the production of Psycho. The set of Psycho is remarkably polished. Well, you can almost smell the veneer, and like any other film shot in a 1950s Hollywood studio, there is some kind of glamorous artificiality associated with it.

This makes the drama (and comedy) unfold with some kind of nostalgia. For film enthusiasts, seeing the work and thought processes of Hitchcock while making Psycho is quite intriguing. Anything else proves to be a distraction.

While Gervasi’s film focuses more on the relationship between Hitchcock and his wife, Alma Reville (Mirren), and how this channels into Hitchcock’s work on Psycho, it is most engaging when we see Hitchcock on the set. The use of the doppelganger in the form of a serial killer who served as inspiration for the novel that Psycho was based on appears to affect the film’s tone and pacing, though it is not as frustrating as its use in the Margaret Thatcher biopic The Iron Lady (2011).

Hitchcock skims at the surface of Hitchcock the director, goes into more detail with his relationships with (primarily) women, but in the end, we are none the wiser towards Hitchcock as a person of fascination. This is a film that is aimed at both mainstream couple crowds and film lovers, but it misses the sweet spot by a fair bit.

Verdict: Anthony Hopkins gives an excellent portrayal of the great Hitchcock, but the film suffers from some pacing issues and a few uninspired moments.

GRADE: B- (7/10 or 3 stars)








 

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