Hitchcock follows the travails of the famous British director as he struggles to adapt Robert Bloch’s novel into the ground-breaking film Psycho. Although the film met with something of an icy reception, I enjoyed it for what it was; a light and amusing look at one of cinema’s great personalities.
Anthony Hopkins is very good as Hitchcock and much of the film explores his relationship with his wife and collaborator, Alma Reville (Helen Mirren). Many of the film’s best moments involve the martial banter and negotiation between the two of them. There’s something about the unresolved tensions in their relationship, caused as much as anything by their being creative equals in many ways, that feels not only true, but refreshing, given how long-term marriages are often portrayed in Hollywood.
However, the often brilliant Mirren is not at her best in this incompletely drawn character, with stronger performances coming from Scarlett Johansson as Janet Leigh, Toni Colette as Hitchcock’s assistant Peggy Robertson and in particular, Jessica Biel who is excellent in a low key and somewhat minor role as the ” star who could have been,” Vera Miles.
Those expecting a full biography of Hitchcock, or a deeper exploration of his creative process will be disappointed by this film. But, that shouldn’t put off those looking for a way into Hitchcock’s world, or some the challenges the great director was facing around the time of the making of Psycho. Hitchcock is a flawed film, but fascinating nonetheless.
You can also read James’ full review here.