Sacha Gervasi’s film, Hitchcock, released Friday, ingeniously explores the mind behind cinematic masterpieces such as Psycho, Rear Window and Vertigo. The film delves into the complicated relationship between Hitchcock and his wife, Alma Reville (Helen Mirren), who was an integral partner in his work.
Anthony Hopkins plays Hitchcock, and there really couldn’t have been a better choice. He’s got the fluttering, exaggerated frown down so well, it’s as if Hopkins had been planning for this role all his life.
The movie isn’t a masterpiece by any means, but it does a good job of creating a tone with ironic edges and humorous wit that feels authentic in its attempt to mirror Hitchcock’s perspective and artistic process.
The film focuses specifically on the making of Psycho (1960).
Arguably the finest horror film ever made, Psycho ushered in a huge shift in American cinema, with it’s daring plot choices and sympathy for the criminal mind.
No one in Hollywood is on board for the idea — when Hitchcock proposes the film based off of Robert Bloch’s book everyone shuts him down.
It’s controversial, vulgar and horrific. And God forbid if any nudity or toilets are shown.
Paramount refuses to finance him, but he is determined to redeem himself after making the lesser North By Northwest and must prove to everyone that he’s not an old geezer and is still capable of producing original, experimental cinema.
He and a reluctant Reville even mortgage their house to finance it. The film takes a much needed jab at Hollywood, which Hitchcock argues wants to make the same film over and over again.
But by no means is Gervasi’s Hitchcock a perfected God. He’s got obesity issues, psychological parasites, alcohol problems, obsessions with his leading ladies and an oedipal complex of his own. His relationship with his wife is most important to him, and the making of Psycho puts a heavy strain on their marriage.
Alma feels her efforts have gone under appreciated and wants to undertake some work of her own helping her friend Whitfield Cook, played by Danny Huston, revise his novel. Hitchcock smells adultery. All these plot lines weave together to create one hell of an interesting film, and it’s funny to boot.
If anything, the film is an excellent tribute to Psycho and gives due respect to Reville for her unwavering and characteristically under-appreciated support. Scarlet Johansson is captivating as Janet Leigh, and Toni Collette, as Hitch’s assistant Peggy, expresses paragraphs with a smirk. Accurate or not, Hitchcock would like this film. Or at least find it amusing. I really bet he would.