Hitchcock Review

The Plot

The sensational true story of how iconic director Alfred Hitchcock made his undisputed masterpiece Psycho. Hitchcock is an intimate biopic exploring the infamous obsessions and eccentricities o the so called master of suspense. The film also delves deeply into Hitchcock’s profound relationship with his wife and constant creative collaborator Alma Reville.

The Good

Anthony Hopkins tackles an incredibly difficult task, in trying to deliver a performance that captures such a familiar figure without resorting to a simple caricature. His convincing work is especially impressive given the obvious burden of the fat suit and extensive makeup he’s wearing. Skilled acting actually does as much as his fabricated physical appearance to transform Hopkins into Hitchcock.

Helen Mirren is likewise on typically accomplished form as Hitchcock’s long suffering and supportive wife Alma. She does a particularly excellent job of capturing the frustrations of living in the shadow of Hitchcock’s demanding ego and celebrated public image.

Fans of the silver screen and Hitchcock’s genius will also enjoy seeing other familiar names and faces brought to life, for example by modern day screen sirens Scarlett Johansson and Jessica Biel. The film delves beyond the simple details of Hitchcock’s private life to provide a dramatic documentation of the troublesome production of a movie masterpiece.

The Bad

Alfred Hitchcock had such a unique physical and vocal presence that it’s hard for anyone to truly do justice to that vivid memory.  Anthony Hopkins certainly succeeds in capturing Hitchcock’s mannerisms and instantly recognisable voice, but in truth the extensive makeup required to physically transform him into the rotund director is distracting at times. Sadly there’s a certain rubbery quality to his face that even an accomplished actor can’t disguise.

The film also has wider issues. Watching Hitchcock fight with reluctant studio heads, dismissive critics and self-doubt as he battles to make the definitive slasher film; is less entertaining and dramatic when we all know full well the film did indeed get released and proved to be one of the greatest successes of his enviable career.

The film tries to add some depth and darkness by exploring Hitchcock’s private and very public obsession with murder. However having Hitchcock imagine friendly chats with dead serial killers feels heavy handed and overly melodramatic. Similarly showing Hitchcock’s lurid fantasies of violence seems gratuitous and ineffective. We know full well Hitchcock isn’t about to go on a killing spree, dispatching his wife and leading ladies.

The Ugly Truth

Hitchcock does a fine job of portraying one of cinemas most enduring icons at a landmark moment in filmmaking history. It should also certainly satisfy nostalgic fans looking for a peak into the making of a classic film.

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