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2012 | 98 min | PG-13 | 2.39:1



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1 user review

Movie appeal




Theatrical release date

 23 November, 2012
 08 February, 2013

Country of origin

 United States

Box office




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Screenshots from Hitchcock Blu-ray

Hitchcock Preview  

 / 10
Preview by Brian Orndorf, November 29, 2012

After a thorough peeling in last month's unexpectedly bitter HBO offering, "The Girl," the life and times of cinema's reigning master of suspense returns to the screen in the appropriately titled "Hitchcock." Although the mood has been considerably lightened from the cable offering, "Hitchcock" remains equally troubled when it comes to the internal workings of the filmmaker, once again wading into the vast reservoir of the man's neuroses to decode how such a distanced, manipulative pop culture figure and industry legend went about his daily business during a particularly stressful stretch of his career. The results are entertaining and capably acted, but true insight remains at arm's length, despite a feature cooking up all sorts of ghoulish visions and barely concealed jealousies.

Basking in the glow of his success with "North by Northwest," Alfred Hitchcock (Anthony Hopkins) has grown frustrated with the hunt for his next project, only finding inspiration in Robert Bloch's 1959 book, "Psycho," loosely based on ghastly murders committed by madman Ed Gein (Michael Wincott). With wife Alma (Helen Mirren) by his side, providing her husband with support and creative input, Hitchcock brings "Psycho" to Hollywood, only to find his plans for a suspense picture sinister enough to compete with the rising tide of European filmmakers refused as indecent. Electing to finance the movie himself, Hitchcock puts everything on the line to produce his feature, assembling a team that includes stars Janet Leigh (Scarlett Johansson), Anthony Perkins (James D'Arcy), and Vera Miles (Jessica Biel). Faced with a shoot of immense financial pressure, the director finds difficulty focusing on the work at hand when Alma shows interest in collaborating with Whit (Danny Huston), an author hoping to attract Hitchcock's attention. Dazed by his loves of blondes and food, while attempting to suppress Gein's ghostly influence, Hitchcock strives to make "Psycho" a masterpiece in the midst of all the distractions.

Adapted from a 1990 book by Stephen Rebello, "Hitchcock" aspires to show a different side of the filmmaker, a human portrait away from his work in movies and television. It's not a life story, only a sliver of time, capturing the inspiration and execution of "Psycho," isolating a moment where Hitchcock faced the prospect of obsolescence with renewed vigor to prove himself to the press and his peers. As it goes with such stories of ambition, all was not well, with Hitchcock decidedly overweight and nursing an obsession with his leading ladies, driving Alma away with his wandering eye. Despite building an identity as a thrillmaster, with a pithy comment holstered at all times, Hitchcock was a broken man at 60 years of age, watching his confidence battered by studio disinterest and a question of personal taste, with outsiders appalled that a man of cinematic refinement would lower himself down to such a grim story of incest, butchery, and homosexuality.

"Hitchcock" is keen to follow the master's fracture psyche, watching the spirit of Gein influence him during production, inspiring and instructing the director as he slogs through the difficulties of the shoot and his marriage. There's also the story of Vera Miles, an actress brought on to "Psycho" for contractual reasons, who long ago betrayed Hitchcock and his plans to orchestrate her superstardom by having children, rupturing his suffocating control issues further. While the title promises a meticulous directorial inspection, "Hitchcock" is actually more about Alma and her supporting role in her husband's life. An unsung screenwriting and editorial architect, Alma plays a critical role in the rise of the helmer's reputation, though their marriage has grown impossibly stale, opening the woman up to Whit's suspicious flirtations and the lure of his remote beach house to manufacture their own tale of suspense. Although Hopkins is absolutely wonderful as Hitchcock, communicating a sense of life and anxiety under layers of make-up (it's more than just a simple impression), it's really Mirren who walks away with the movie, delivering commanding, wounded work as a woman unsure of her position next to her famous spouse. Her scenes are the finest of the feature, allowing "Hitchcock" to engage on a more human level, away from demonic hallucinations and the hectic, backstabbing atmosphere of Hollywood.

Director Sacha Gervasi ("Anvil! The Story of Anvil") has fun with the Hitchcockian possibilities of the picture, layering in visual tributes and celebratory antics, while picking a few key moments from the production of "Psycho" to explore, including the infamous shower scene. However, "Hitchcock" barely touches on filmmaking woes, creating a weird imbalance between domestic intensity and professional misery, with the script filling in the cracks with a few tuneless scenes of confrontation. Those hoping to see more of Perkins and Leigh on the set of "Psycho" will likely be disappointed, finding the material clinging close to Hitchcock's perspective, inspecting the strain the effort placed on his life, not the feature.

"Hitchcock" is enjoyable, with rich period recreations that turn absolutely giddy once the release of "Psycho" comes into view. It's a solid study of the man, his wife, and their incredible gamble to scare the pants off the audience, and while it's never as remarkable as the career of Alfred Hitchcock, it's another fascinating step forward in the deconstruction of a moviemaking legend.

Starring: Anthony Hopkins, Helen Mirren, Scarlett Johansson, Jessica Biel, Michael Stuhlbarg, Toni Collette
Director: Sacha Gervasi

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Hitchcock, Forum Discussions

Last post
Alfred Hitchcock ( 2013 ) 56 Jan 10, 2013
Hitchcock 1 Nov 26, 2012

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