ANTHONY HOPKINS HELEN MIRREN SCARLETT JOHANSSON TONI COLLETTE JESSICA BIEL
Alfred Hitchcock was more than just a director or “master of suspense”, as he was called. He was an icon and his legacy lives on today more than ever. There was a fine line that the filmmakers had to walk with Hitchcock, appealing to a generation only familiar with the director in general terms, and those who remember seeing his films in the cinema. Casting is also tricky when applied to recreation of iconic characters, and The Aviator stands out as one of the few that really succeeded. Screenplay by John J. McLaughlin (Black Swan) and directorial debut by Sacha Gervasi, Hitchcock is a performance vehicle above anything else. Oscar winner Hopkins fades behind the makeup (sure to be nominated) and the fake chin and lips. His mannerisms are consistent with what we saw of Hitchcock, but while his performance is more internalized, Oscar winner Mirren steals the show in one of the most well rounded, show stopping, clap your hands performances of 2012.
Coming off the success of North By Northwest for MGM, Alfred Hitchcock (Hopkins) has to deliver one more film for Paramount to fulfill his contract. As usually, he turns to his partner in life and behind the scenes, loving wife Alma Reville (Mirren). Hitch comes across the ghastly book Psycho about Ed Gein’s murders, to which Alma initially scoffs at being beneath her husband. Hitch can’t get over the idea that if he makes Psycho it will shock people that he, above all people, is doing it. “What if someone good did a horror picture”. Hitch wants lots of violence and disturbing content and Paramount refuses to fund it, so he and Alma must raise the money on their own and gamble his entire career on a horror film.
“Just ‘Hitch’, hold the cock”, he tells those of his nickname. Hitchcock doesn’t simply explore the enormous struggle and importance of Psycho to Hitchcock’s career, it also takes a look at one small part of the directors life and shows just how instrumental Alma was to his success and accomplishments. Hitchcock is more than anything a love story, yet another look at love over 60 this year (i.e. Hope Springs, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel). The dark humor sets the perfect tone for this film, but it is certainly on the comedy side of the genre.
Both Hopkins and Mirren will certainly earn deserved Oscar nominations for their unforgettable performances here. Johansson doesn’t get as much to do as the leads, but is still good in the role, just not in line for a nomination. It’s wonderful to see Collette on the big screen again, but she has the type of small role to go unnoticed. More than being about Hitchcock making Psycho, it’s about “what it’s like to be married to a man obsessed with murder,” Alma jokes. Small touches like the articulate use of the famous “Hitchcock shadow” is just one more example what makes the film exceed certainly my expectations.
Final Thought – Cheeky nostalgic fantasia that might finally land Mr. Hitchcock an Oscar.
By: Dustin Chase W.
Dr. Donna Copeland’s
Alfred Hitchcock is turning out to be one of the more interesting characters in the movie business. In this film, not only do we learn more about him, but we get a revealing portrait of his wife as well. And their unusual relationship is just as novel and amusing as they are individually. In Hitchcock, we see a great deal of how Psycho was made. This account captures so well the fluidity between his innermost thoughts, fears, and desires, and his relationships in the real world.
Hitchcock is portrayed as more disturbed in The Girl, a recent HBO production made in association with the BBC. It was written by Gwyneth Hughes, and quotes Hitchcock in the beginning frame as saying, “Blondes Make the Best Victims. They’re like virgin snow that shows up the bloody footprints.” Whether the film Hitchcock or the television production, The Girl, is more realistically based, Hitchcock was certainly a very complex figure.
Alma, his wife, was an amazing woman in terms of the way she “managed” Hitchcock in everyday life and her contributions to “his” work. She was ever so wise in knowing just when and how to confront him, how to get messages to him without really saying anything, and when and how to support and praise him. Her patience with his neediness was seemingly boundless. Helen Mirren’s performance in the role is a brilliant stroke in combining strength, vulnerability, and humor. I wanted to applaud when she stood up to Hitchcock in their bedroom, reminding him of all the ways in which she was essential to his success. Anthony Hopkins’ 5-second portrayal of his reaction is just as impressive.
The British director, Sasha Gervasi, and the writers (John McLaughlin, screenplay, and author Stephen Rebello’s Alfred Hitchcock and the Making of “Psycho”) have put together what may be an award-winning film in its artistry and craft, supplemented by a superb cast of actors. In addition to Hopkins and Mirren, Scarlett Johansson as Janet Leigh, Toni Collette as Peggy, and James D’Arcy as Anthony Perkins transport viewers into the drama, making us lose awareness of anything outside that world, just as it was when we watched Psycho for the first time.
I give Hitchcock a solid A.