Okay, well now that I got my Hitchcock impersonation out of the way it's time I actually get around to reviewing this. I should begin by saying that when I first learned that a film was going to be made about Alfred Hitchcock, starring Anthony Hopkins, I was positively blown away. This sounded like such a fantastic premise for a film, and when the first trailer came out I couldn't wait to see the movie. Well, I finally got around to seeing it despite the very, very mixed reviews which I had read (including one from Patrick over at "The Scene of the Crime").
Anyhow, "Hitchcock" tells the story of Alfred Hitchcock and how is determined to bring the film "Psycho" to life. With his wife Alma (Helen Mirren), the director will stop at nothing to bring this project to life, facing a number of odds.
The film is purported to be based upon "Alfred Hitchcock and the Making of Psycho" by Stephen Rebello - a book which I have sadly not gotten around to reading yet, although I did purchase it a while back. Nonetheless, I am familiar with some of "Psycho's" production history and the trials and tribulations which Alfred Hitchcock had to go through in order to direct this film. On the surface a film like "Hitchcock" had great potential - and I have always liked the idea of a movie telling about the production of another movie. However, while the film had potential it didn't live up to it.
I'll begin by looking at the positives. First off, Anthony Hopkins is fantastic. He really does bring Alfred Hitchcock to life perfectly. His performance is probably the best in the film and there are some very clever moments which could warm the heart of any Hitchcock fan. The beginning and end of the movie feature the director addressing the audience directly and even plays the music "Funeral March for a Marionette" making these scenes feel as though they have been lifted from an episode of "Alfred Hitchcock Presents." Other praise must go towards James D'Arcy and Scarlett Johansson as Anthony Perkins and Janet Leigh respectively.
In addition, the movie looks beautiful. The late 1950's is recreated in grand style. The production team should certainly be commended for their work. Furthermore, when the movie decides to discuss the production of "Psycho" it is actually pretty interesting. The fact that Hitchcock financed the project alone is interesting and his rather strenuous relationship with Paramount is intriguing. Sadly, the film doesn't go much more in depth on the production of the film than an outline. And this is the film's greatest downfall.
|Hitchcock reading Robert Bloch's novel|
Although the movie is supposed to be about the making of "Psycho," it simply isn't. This is the story of Alfred Hitchcock's relationship with his wife Alma and it simply happens to coincide with the filming of his most famous film. Instead we get far too many scenes with Alma working with Whitfield Cook (Danny Huston) as Hitchcock begins to suspect that Alma is falling for this other man. These scenes do not propel the story forward at all, and really detract from what could have a potentially interesting story about the filming of one of the famous movies of all time. In addition, we get a number of pointless scenes in which Hitchcock actually believes to be speaking to the real-life inspiration for Robert Bloch's novel, the serial killer Ed Gein. These scenes also go nowhere and add nothing whatsoever to the plot. The entire middle section of the movie is bogged down with scenes like this and really detracts from the overall enjoyment. It's only with fifteen minutes remaining in this film do we get more production history on the film - and eve then it's extraordinarily brief.
In my opinion, this film was trying to be too much at once. It was attempting to be a film about the production of "Psycho," a film about the potentially troubled life of Alfred Hitchcock and a film about the warped and disturbing life of Ed Gein. If the movie had actually decided to follow actual history and tell us about the production of "Psycho," this could have been a great movie which utilized the talents of Anthony Hopkins and Helen Mirren to their full. While there were some redeeming qualities (the scene where Alma asks Hitchcock why he wants to make the film springs to mind), "Hitchcock" suffers under the weight of a jumbled script which it couldn't improve. I therefore give "Hitchcock" a 3 out of 5 stars. It's certainly not a dreadful film, but it had so much more potential.