“That, my dear, is why they call me the Master of Suspense.”
Cast: Anthony Hopkins, Helen Mirren, Scarlett Johansson
Anthony Hopkins dons a fat suit and prosthetics to become Alfred Hitchcock, one of the most notable directors of all time. In this round-about-biography we are shown part of the famous director’s life throughout the filming of Psycho, arguably his greatest film ever, though his relationship with his wife is surprisingly pulled to the forefront.
Some have deemed the run up to this film to be rather misleading towards the nature of it. Rather than just focus on his struggles with getting Psycho underway, Hitchcock actually focuses on Alfred’s home life and relationship with his wife, writer and collaborator, Alma Reville, which was going through a bit of turmoil at the time. The strains of Psycho are merely touched upon.
Hopkins does a good job as Hitch, though I think the prosthetics on his face didn’t quite capture the director’s features properly. Nevertheless, I really liked his performance. Scenes where Hopkins had to take center-stage and give speeches for instance, fit in really well with how I would imagine Hitch to be – confident, passionate and vibrant – and his mannerisms, accent and speech rhythm all seemed spot on too.
Helen Mirren as Alma was almost as good to watch. Opting to be a confident, vivacious opponent to Hitch and his somewhat out-there ideas, she was the only one to really rival him. We see this fire come out of her in one of her better scenes when she is one on one with Hitch and the way she was portrayed in the media – as a mousy, more reserved woman – don’t nearly meet this portrayal by Mirren, which was a bit of an eye-opener.
Scarlett Johansson and Jessica Biel play, quite frankly, a couple of sex symbols. While they do actually have roles that are involved with the filming of Psycho, as previous discussed, this wasn’t explored as much as you’d hope so we don’t see much from them. They give quite average performances, nothing special, so it’s fair to say they were most probably cast to draw in the audience. It would have been nice to see more from them though.
One thing about this film that I didn’t expect it to do was show how annoying and inconsiderate Hitch could be. Saying that, it also insinuated that Alma was the real brains behind Hitch’s operations, taking away credit from this director’s work. Obviously scenes like this are a bit biased and subjective, so I didn’t want to take onboard everything without question, but it was certainly interesting to see Hitchcock’s life shed in this light. Gervasi also goes as far to show us that Hitch wasn’t a ‘normal guy’ in the general sense, especially when we’re briefly shown his ‘blonde girl’ obsessions, but doesn’t delve too deep into this.
Hitchcock is, disappointingly, not really about the filming of Psycho, though it does look further into the director’s life around the time of filming. Hopkins does a good job as the man in question and Mirren pulls off a good Alma, though I’m afraid to say it could have been a lot better.
Star rating: 6/10
Directed by Sacha Gervasi.
Running time 98 minutes.