While any amateur film fan could name names of those directors that helped shape the cinematic world, visually picking those same directors out of a line up might be a little more difficult for a casual viewer. Unless, of course, that director is Alfred Hitchcock. The overweight, bald-headed English director with the dark, tongue-in-cheek sense of humor known for his unique psychological thrillers made his silhouette one of his many trademarks. It goes without saying that a biopic of such a notable and recognizable could, potentially, be tricky. The new film Hitchcock, starring Anthony Hopkins in the title role and Helen Mirren, focuses on the eccentric director, his wife and the making of perhaps his most famous film: Psycho.
Hopkins and Mirren carry the film well and can almost make up for the distraction that is Scarlett Johansson’s awful wig as Janet Leigh. But the film sheds an interesting and new light on the woman behind the man and just how indispensable Alma, Hitchcock’s wife, really was to his art and his success. Similarly, the film shows Hitchcock’s eccentricities, idiosyncrasies and some of the fascinating back story of how Psycho almost didn’t get made…or shown.
The film also works hard to show off Hitchcock’s obsessions. One of those is his seeming infatuation with notorious murderer Ed Gein, who served as the inspiration — if you’d call it that — for the book and subsequent film Psycho. The film shows this obsession with several scenes interspersed in the film of Hitchcock conversing with Gein, who acts almost as a devil on Hitchcock’s shoulder. But the scenes put a brake on some of the fluidity of the story.
Hitchcock is the narrative directorial debut of director Sacha Gervasi (known most notably for the documentary Anvil! The Story of Anvil) and it’s obvious at times. Regardless, the film is unquestionably worth watching for fans of Hitchcock, Psycho or classic films.