Written by / 1/04/2013 / 1 Comment / , , , , ,

HITCHCOCK

year: 2012 cast: Anthony Hopkins, Helen Mirren rating: ***
Although it's about a sixty year old Alfred Hitchcock who, after the release of NORTH BY NORTHWEST, was an established, revered veteran film director, this is really a story of humble beginnings... Having done everything of the suspense genre, he decides to take on something entirely new: a project that could have been a schlocky b-picture with a less capable auteur.

The best aspects have Hitchcock fighting to get PSYCHO made – and then fighting to make it good. Problems arise sporadically but are handled quickly: the opening love scene between leading lady Janet Leigh and "wooden" John Gavin didn’t have the essential sparks, and a risque shower sequence might not pass rating board muster.

While we learn about the making of the classic film, most of the time is spent on Hitchcock pining away for his wife Alma, played with assertive confidence by Helen Mirren. Possibly having an affair with a mediocre screenwriter, her daily absence drives Alfred to put more darkness into the risky venture he financed himself. One scene where he takes over for Anthony Perkins's stunt double during the knife-slashing shower scene – to get a better performance from Leigh – is intense yet borders on ridiculous.

Certain aspects of this "biopic" seem bent on stretching or playing with the truth, especially scenes with Hitchcock all alone. And then there are dreamlike sequences where he converses with serial killer/mama’s boy Ed Gein, the inspiration of Norman Bates. These teach us little about Hitchcock’s fascination with the serial killer but attempt to delve into his own psychosis: hinted at without being fully materialized.

Bordering on a behind the scenes biopic and stylistic soap opera, Anthony Hopkins makes everything work ala subtle prosthetic makeup and a down-to-earth charm, giving the familiar icon his own person... without seeming like an imitation. 
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1 comment:

  1. There is no way I could imagine myself seeing this movie with any other actor playing Hitchcock. I would have zero interest. I dig Alfred Hitchcock and his movies, growing up with reruns of Alfred Hitchcock presents on my black and white television in my bedroom instantly made me a fan of the rotund auteur. Saying that it is only my interest seeing Anthony Hopkins play Hitchcock that I found utterly fascinating. My love for Helen Mirren really only applies to her role as Morgana in EXCALIBUR, but she is darn good in this movie as well.

    I'm fairly surprised that I really liked this movie. Of course there most likely wouldn't have been one without Hopkins.

    Great review as always James.

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