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Hitchcock - Movie Review

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Hitchcock - Movie Review

4 stars

What if someone good made a horror film? This is the question Hitchcock, directed by Sacha Gervasi, asks its audience. It is also the question the maestro himself poses to his wife and longtime business partner, Alma Reville, over many a cup of tea. Based on the true accounts of the making of Psycho, Gervasi’s film tackles the 1960’s and the many controversies surrounding the making of the film with a wink and a nudge and more than a little bit of cleverness.

Based on a researched work of non-fiction by Stephen Rebello but scripted by John McLaughlin, Hitchcock, with Psycho as its backdrop, is truly the theatre of a marriage – through all of its ups and downs – and the two people responsible for making it work when they needed each other the most. Anthony Hopkins, heavily wrapped in facial prosthesis and sporting an appropriately rotund fake belly, plays Hitchcock and Helen Mirren is Alma. The two have been a team for a long 34 years but unhealthy forces are driving a wedge through their foundation and these two actors wonderfully communicate the tension.

The film opens with Hitchcock at a proverbial crossroads. The television show is a hit. He has just released North by Northwest and, bored by the offering of Cary Grant in Ian Fleming’s Casino Royale (“I’ve already made that picture”, he teases), he turns his attention to a murder-sex novel that is offending all who happens upon its Freudian pages. The book is Robert Bloch's “Psycho” and Hollywood, believing Hitchcock is too old to be bankable, wants nothing to do with it. Hitchcock, mortgaging his house and pool, must go it alone.

With Anthony Perkins (James Darcy), Janet Leigh (Scarlett Johansson), and Vera Miles (Jessica Biel) already cast, Alma gets to work making the necessary changes to the adaptation by screenwriter Joseph Stephano (Ralph Macchio). But an unappreciative husband and his routinely blonde distractions thwart her progress. She opts instead to spin her wheels – and the movie’s – in the sand with a screenwriting project another writer (Danny Huston) wants to work with her on.

Audiences will eat up the few Psycho reenactments peppered throughout the film. Fans of Hitchcock’s films will dig the many filmic nods his canon gets. But the most amazing moment is the faux conducting of the audience’s reaction to the famous shower scene upon its initial viewing as Hitchcock stands outside in the lobby and waltzes with a knifed frenzy to Bernard Herrmann’s famous string slashing. Not since Silence of the Lambs have we seen Hopkins have this much fun in a role.

But it is Mirren who steals the show. Her siren-like performance as a thankless yet supportive spouse is the fury in Hitchcock’s sails. She never chews the scenery – something we can accuse Hopkins of doing a time or two – but impresses this reviewer for the sheer weight she brings to a role that could have easily been as unnoticed here as it was in real life. Hitchcock’s career is proof positive that men need women. And this Hitchcock should thank its lucky stars it snagged Mirren for this role. You’ll be seeing her face more around Oscar time. Mark my words.

Hitch himself would be proud.

Hitchcock posterMPAA Rating: PG-13 for some violent images, sexual content and thematic material.
98 mins.
: Sacha Gervasi
Writer: John J. McLaughlin
Cast: Anthony Hopkins; Helen Mirren; Scarlett Johansson; Jessica Biel
: Drama
Behind every Psycho is a great woman.
Memorable Movie Quote: "All of us harbor dark recesses of violence."
Fox Searchlight Pictures
Official Site:
Release Date: November 23, 2012 (limited)
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date:
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Synopsis: Hitchcock is a love story about one of the most influential filmmakers of the last century, Alfred Hitchcock, and his wife and partner Alma Reville. The film takes place during the making of Hitchcock's seminal movie Psycho.

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