Hitchcock tries to be two stories, one about Alfred Hitchcock (a latex covered Anthony Hopkins) and his decision to make the violent psychological thriller, Psycho, the other about his marriage to his smart and talented wife, Alma (Helen Mirren). If this film’s director, Sacha Gervasi, and his screenwriter, John J. McLaughlinm had chosen just one story to tell, I believe Hitchcock could have been a great film. Instead, it’s just a good movie, fun, but rather light, with an excellent cast.
Hitchcock’s choice to make Psycho puts his entire career at risk. Paramount Studios (with whom he had a contract) refused to fund the movie, so Hitch put up the money himself, with Paramount distributing it. As a student of film and someone who loves movies about movies, I wish Hitchcock would have delved a little deeper into the making of the movie. Some of that is here, but not enough to hold your interest for very long. Hitchcock does a better job exploring the relationship between Hitch and Alma, but that has more to do with Mirren and Hopkins than the movie itself. These two giants of cinema could recite the lyrics to a One Direction song and make it sound profound.
Scarlett Johansson is appealing as Janet Leigh, Michael Stuhlbarg does is usual fine work as Hitchcock’s agent, Lew Wasserman, Jessica Biel shows more range in her limited time as Vera Miles than all of Total Recall, and Danny Huston proves that he’s cornered the market on assholes as Alma’s writing partner, Whitfield Cook. Sadly, Toni Collette has the thankless roll of eye-rolling assistant to Hitchcock. The movie is directed like an old time Hollywood bio, albeit one with a creepy edge, and the script tries some interesting ideas by incorporating Hitchcock’s fascination with Ed Gein (the real life serial killer who inspired Psycho) into several scenes of the movie.
Despite all of that, I never felt that Hitchcock was able to settle into one story, making this movie slightly interesting rather than compelling.The ending does set up for the making of The Birds, so perhaps hardcore Hitchcock fans can watch a double feature of this film and HBO’s The Girl, which cast Toby Jones as the director during the making of the latter movie.
The Blu-ray comes with the DVD and a digital copy of the film. Bonus features for Hitchcock are standard EPK material. Like the movie, I wish they would have delved a little deeper into the myth of one of the greatest directors ever, rather than just the bullet points.