It’s considered one of the greatest films ever and, at the time, one of the most daring. Hitchcock takes a look behind the process and problems of Alfred Hitchcock’s genre-defining chiller Psycho. Anthony Hopkins and a J. Edgar-esque skin mask star as the seminal director who has just opened North By Northwest to astounding success. With his loyal wife Alma (Helen Mirren) by his side, Hitch (“Just Hitch, hold the cock darling”) sets out to find what’s ‘next’. The studios want another North By Northwest, the press want another North By Northwest, it seems everyone wants Hitch to just keep doing what he has been doing. Then he discovers Psycho: a novel based on gruesome serial killer Ed Gein. Coming up with resistance from the studio, from the classifications board and most of his collaborators, Hitch mortgages his home in a bid to bring the murder mystery to life.
Hopkins is endlessly amusing as the filmmaking legend: witty and entertaining in one instance, sulky and a sullen schoolboy in others. He’s assisted by the stellar supporting cast in Mirren, Toni Collette, James D’Arcy, Danny Huston and particularly Scarlett Johansson. As silver screen siren Janet Leigh Johansson is sassy and charismatic, bringing as much humour and colour to the screen as Hopkins.
Don’t be fooled by Hitchcock’s trailers: they want you to think this is a serious Oscar contender for best picture, best actor, best whatever. Really, what this is a comedic romp. Dramatic tension between Hitchcock and Alma feels somewhat forced in a bid to ‘make use’ of the high calibre leads. However, Hitchcock is at its best when it’s not trying to win awards: when the story is rocketing along and Hopkins is making the audience laugh with the eccentricities of the filmmaker. In a tribute to his TV specials, the film begins and ends with an introduction by ‘Hitchcock’ himself, which is a nice directorial touch.
It’s not the Oscar-baitey drama it’s promoted as, but Hitchcock is a fully-fledged comedy that will delight and amuse.
and a half stars
Maria Lewis – follow Maria on Twitter here: @moviemazz