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Fox Searchlight Pictures // PG-13 // November 23, 2012
List Price: Unknown [Buy now and save at Anrdoezrs]
The filmmaking industry continues to get new masters of suspense every so often, but the classics will never fade from the minds of the fans. His motion pictures have aged extremely well and they will continue to be popular with one generation to the next. Alfred Hitchcock is one of the greatest filmmakers of all time. It will always shock me to know that he never won an Oscar, which he should have received multiple times. Hitchcock tells his story, and while it's not entirely accurate, it's still quite entertaining.
After creating the big hit North by Northwest, Alfred Hitchcock (Anthony Hopkins) decides to make a film based on the novel Psycho, which is based on the murders committed by Ed Gein. He soon becomes obsessed with the project whether he's awake or asleep. Nobody will fund his picture so he decides to make it with his own money. Meanwhile, his wife, Alma (Helen Mirren), begins to feel like her husband is drifting away from her. She decides to work on her own project with Whitfield Cook (Danny Huston), a young and attractive writer. Jealousy begins to develop in both Alfred and Alma, as they endure the bumpy road that is the production of Hitchcock's most successful feature, Psycho.
While Hitchcock explores the man behind the scenes, it also displays Alfred while on set. The most interesting moments are when the story dissects his behaviors and habits, which are quite subtle. This portion of the picture ultimately grows into overly-dramatic chaos, as Alma begins to work with an attractive man. It doesn't fit into the grand scheme of the movie, which is to show Hitchcock at work and what went on in his mind while making one of the greatest movies of all time. However, when the plot returns to Alfred on set, your eyes will be glued to the screen. John J. McLaughlin has written a solid script that recreates ongoings on the set very well. It genuinely feels like we're watching the real man at work. The dialogue is decent and fans will be glad to know that there's plenty of humor for us film nerds.
It doesn't end with Alfred finishing Psycho, as we're also treated to the reception. Those who know the first audience's reaction will find this to be an excellent portrayal of it. This is a great way for McLaughlin to finish Psycho's journey. While I'm very happy with some elements of the movie, I can't help but be a little bit disappointed at how the plot doesn't entirely hold its focus on Hitchcock and his work. His jealousy of Alma working with another man feels incredibly out of place. Unfortunately, the relationship between Alfred and Alma takes up a big portion of the movie. This chunk of time could have been more effectively used to show Hitchcock's connections with the cast and the material. Theres a little bit of this shown, which makes it disappointing when it isn't taken all the way. There's so much more to this story that didn't make it onto the big screen. Hitchcock would have greatly benefited from being a little longer in order to accommodate more of the master's actual story. Once the credits begin to roll, it feels a lot less like a biographical drama and a lot more like a romantic drama.
The casting must have been difficult for this project. Anthony Hopkins is a fantastic actor, but he wouldn't have been the first person to come to mind for the role of Alfred Hitchcock. He has made a successful transformation both emotionally and physically. After a few minutes of getting used to him, Hopkins is incredibly believable. He overacts a little bit, but that's part of who the character is. The art of film was everything to this man and Hopkins conveys that very well. Helen Mirren is outstanding as his wife, Alma. She's convincing and has a genuine relationship with Hopkins on screen. Scarlett Johansson has a much smaller role as Janet Leigh, but she manages to pull it off. There aren't any bad performances to name in Hitchcock. The casting decisions are all excellent.
Director Sacha Gervasi has successfully transformed this picture to Alfred's era of filmmaking. The visuals are all very polished and suitable, as are the costumes. The makeup used on Anthony Hopkins is great, which aided him in entirely possessing the master of suspense. The recreations of the sets used on Psycho are all exciting to see. There are numerous subtle visual nuances to be seen throughout the filming sequences, and there are more bold ones towards the end. Gervasi and the crew have done a wonderful job bringing this film to the big screen.
Those who are looking to learn a lot about who Alfred Hitchcock was should look for a documentary, because that isn't the primary focus of Hitchcock. Instead of focusing on Alfred himself or accurately telling his struggles, this picture goes back and forth between being on the set and the emotional toll it's taking on Alma. While this could have been more successful as a smaller sub-plot, it shouldn't have consumed as much running time as it did. I really wanted to love this movie, but I ended up only liking it. The script is decent with some stand-out moments, such as Hitchcock's time on the set and Psycho's debut in theaters with the audience's reaction. The references are well-placed and fans of the industry are sure to enjoy them. Hitchcock is an entertaining and likable-enough motion picture, but it doesn't manage to hit all of the right marks. However, the performances and Alfred's scenes on set make this worth checking out.