Drama, Biography
IMDB rating:
Sacha Gervasi
Anthony Hopkins as Alfred Hitchcock
Ralph Macchio as Joe Stefano
Judith Hoag as Lillian
Kai Lennox as Hilton Green
Kurtwood Smith as Geoffrey Shurlock
Michael Stuhlbarg as Lew Wasserman
Danny Huston as Whitfield Cook
Wallace Langham as Saul Bass
Scarlett Johansson as Janet Leigh
Toni Collette as Peggy Robertson
Jessica Biel as Vera Miles
Helen Mirren as Alma Reville
Richard Portnow as Barney Balaban
Michael Wincott as Ed Gein
James D'Arcy as Anthony Perkins
Tara Summers as Rita Riggs
Storyline: In 1959, Alfred Hitchcock and his wife, Alma, are at the top of their creative game as filmmakers amid disquieting insinuations about it being time to retire. To recapture his youth's artistic daring, Alfred decides his next film will adapt the lurid horror novel, Psycho, over everyone's misgivings. Unfortunately, as Alfred self-finances and labors on this film, Alma finally loses patience with his roving eye and controlling habits with his actresses. When an ambitious friend lures her to collaborate on a work of their own, the resulting marital tension colors Alfred's work even as the novel's inspiration haunts his dreams.
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A Nutshell Review: Hitchcock
Mention the name Alfred Hitchcock, and one of his greatest films, and that of cinema's, in Psycho, will inadvertently crop up. But who would have thought that there was just so much drama behind the making of a film blessed with an instantly recognizable iconic scene, that the production of this film forms the basis in which the biography of Alfred Hitchcock the director could be told. Adapted from the book Alfred Hitchcock and the Making of Psycho by Stephen Rebello, this bio-pic by director Sacha Gervasi is reference filled for the Hitchcock buff from the get go, and of course, those who have not seen Psycho, would do themselves a favour before watching this film.

Sir Anthony Hopkins dons prosthetics to play the heavyset director, whom we get introduced to while at the peak of his established career with the success of North By NOrthwest. Needing another film to differentiate himself from the many copycat filmmakers now flooding the industry to make the kind of movies that he does, we go on a filmmaking journey from rights, to production, and what I thought was a very quick climax in the final act with the independently run marketing and promotional efforts of the film, and its subsequent release.

Alas we get very little in terms of the private life behind the public Hitchcock brand and figure. Those expecting somewhat of the usual elements in a biographical film, such as childhood, career highs and lows, will be a tad disappointed because everything we can possibly learn about Hitchcock the man, is centered around Psycho. Which may interest the casual fan, but not so the aficionado who would probably be armed with facts and figures, probably taking pleasure from seeing notable anecdotes brought the the big screen by screenwriter John J. McLaughlin and director Gervasi, which were used by the truckloads, making it feel, just as Hitchcock would have you in the Psycho film proper, as if you're there and participating as well.

But for all that Hopkins could master to play the directing maestro, it is Helen Mirren who steals the show as Hitchcock's wife Alma Reville, who for more than three decades have stood by her husband dutifully, playing the role of his biggest supporter, fan, and critic, as well as being part of the key creative force that's behind the Hitchcock brand. The irony then is perhaps scenes where she tangents off from Hitchcock, much to his jealousy, to spend time with another screenwriter who enlists her help to polish up his script. This new found freedom of being recognized for her talent is liberating for anyone who has stood under the limelight of another, and it does say something when this sub-arc collapses and converges with the main narrative thread to give us that narrative charge to the finale.

I always have interest in films that tell of the old Hollywood days, where studios wield considerable might with their system of control over the entire chain of production and distribution, and censors being quite the pain in the butt more so than those of today. Even Hitchcock himself had to wrangle with the censor board, as Psycho became quite the poster child for compromises that had to be made, and how it triumphed over certain contentious issues regarding nudity and violence. Then there's the artistic production values with sets and design, as well as actors of today having to portray their luminous counterparts of yesteryear, bringing them back and mimicking them to the best of their abilities.

This is more of a film about the making of Psycho, with the accidental tale of Alfred Hitchcock the man and his wife Alma thrown into the mix. It provided glimpses of his professionalism, and will undoubtedly pique your interest further to devour other Hitchcock materials out there. For starters, that box set that I've got would be the right place to start with. But for the uninitiated who are interested to watch this film, get your hands on the original Psycho movie first, then drop by to witness key moments that had occurred to make that vision a reality. Stay tuned for an end credits stinger as well. A definite recommend!
Consistently entertaining!
An interesting and enjoyable take on the making of Psycho. The movie also approached Alfred Hitchcock's relationship with his wife, giving the story a more dramatic tone. Anthony Hopkins as Hitchcock was pretty convincing though I think the massive use of make up made his performance a bit contrived. On the other hand, Helen Mirren was remarkable and gave a stellar performance as his wife. There are a few embarrassing scenes that weren't necessary and could have been cut, but there are also some great moments like the ending and one scene with Janet Leigh in the backstage (hilarious for those who've seen Psycho). Overall, the movie is consistently funny and entertaining even though uneven at times.
A harmless bit of fun
After the controversial BBC-produced The Girl, one could be forgiven for cringing at initial reports that this film about the production of Alfred Hitchcock's legendary thriller Psycho has taken liberties with what is generally regarded as 'the truth'. However, there are many truths in this amusing comedy drama: there's Hitchcock's obsession with his former leading ladies, which was apparent in his snubbing of Vera Miles (played here by Jessica Biel), who 'chose' to become pregnant over taking the lead in Vertigo. There is, however, a great part for Scarlett Johansson as leading lady Janet Leigh, who seems completely unimpressed with Hitchcock's practical jokes, and actually had a good working relationship with Hitch. There are brief references to screenwriter Josephn Stefano and composer Bernard Herrmann, and of course the shooting of the famous shower scene is included. But it's the personal and professional relationship between Hitch and his mentor, collaborator and wife Alma Reville (Helen Mirren) that is the heart and soul of this picture. It is fair to say that after the initial failure of Vertigo - his most personal film - that Hitchcock lost much of his confidence and relied more and more on Alma's support and approval! This film examines how this may have affected their relationship on and off the set, but Hopkins and Mirren play it pretty straight, not veering into caricature. It's not nearly as irreverent as This Girl, and quite the better for it. It does give an insight into one of the most productive and celebrated working relationships in cinema history.
Very misleading
Since I have seen only Winston Churchill as the protagonist in this movie, I've started wondering if Sir Anthony Hopkins hasn't become lately a very confused (if not racist) talent who perceives fat&bald English dudes smoking cigars as being all the same... All in all the movie looks cheaper than "Psycho" and very hard to watch because it's boring. I mean you can find more about "Psycho" watching all Hitchcock interviews than from this movie! You can't pretend to be an insider, Mr. John J. McLaughlin, and give us the candy corn scene! There's almost nothing about Hitchcock in this movie...Ed Gein was sweet though.
An entertaining soufflé
This is a curious film, perhaps even a unique one. It essentially focuses on one chapter in Alfred Hitchcock's life, the period during which he decides to make "Psycho" and his up-and-down relationship with his wife Alma. Anthony Hopkins as Hitchcock and Helen Mirren as Alma are two old pros who can do no wrong, so just watching the two of these wonderful actors deliver their lines was a pleasure in itself.

Also, the sets, the costumes, the dialog... even down to the "candy corn" that Janet Leigh (Scarlett Johansson) offers Hitchcock--all of it seemed appropriate to the period during which "Psycho" was originally shot (1960) and made the film stand out.

The failing of the film, I think, is that it relied too heavily on fantasy sequences in which Hitchcock interacts with serial murderer Ed Gein, who was the apparent inspiration for "Psycho," based on book written about him at the time. I think that perhaps Hitchcock could have had visual moments as he read the book, but to continue to return to fantasy sequences throughout the film and somehow tie those sequences to the affair that Hitchcock imagined Alma was having with Whitfield Cook (Danny Huston), a questionable screenwriter, did not work. I do like that the "affair" was the "B" story, but the Ed Gein interruptions did not enhance it.

If one can look past that, there are many other delicious moments to enjoy, such as just about always seeing Hitchcock in his signature black suit and tie, regardless of what he was doing; Alma allowing herself the freedom to buy a sexy swimsuit; Vera Miles (Jessica Biel) bringing Janet Leigh (Scarlett Johansson) up to speed about the "real" Hitchcock; Hitchcock's zingers about Martin & Lewis movies; the look on Hitch's face when he realizes that, in fact, music IS required in the famous Psycho shower scene; James D'Arcy's chilling (and much too brief) portrayal of Tony Perkins, and many others.

The film entertains but doesn't do much more, and I think it could have and this is why it doesn't entirely work. But in the best possible sense, it acts as a sort of "time travel" experience where we get to be flies on the wall during a challenging time in Hitchcock's life where he takes a story ("Psycho") that is not approved or liked by hardly anyone and turns it into the biggest hit of his life.
A good film with lots of background information
Since I wasn't born yet during the period of this story I'm not aware of how things were back then but it seems to me that stars, celebrities, directors, etc., had a little more privacy than they do today. If this took place today the Internet Press would be filled with stories and speculation about what Hitchcock weighed, what he ate, who he slept with or was rumored to sleep with, who he dissed on the set or any other pointless drivel that sells copy. Because that wasn't the case, or because I wasn't aware of it, most of the material in this story was new to me. Hopkins nailed Hitchcock almost perfectly. And Mirren was wonderful as always. The story is not fast paced. It's not suspenseful. It's exactly what it attempts to be - a story, a drama, with good writing and great acting. Something you rarely see anymore.
Goes off without a Hitch
Neither a forensic study of the making of Psycho nor an incisive examination of the man himself, "Hitchcock" is a long, rambling, boring essay that serves only to raise a single question: why on earth was it made? Slavish in its adoration of a director who, on a good day, could be amongst the best in the business and on a bad one, just about the worst ("Torn Curtain", anyone?) it plods along without a shiver of suspense nor even a whisper of credibility: "it wuz the wife wot did it, guv", seems to be the writer and director's joint explanation for everything ol' Alfred achieved -- as if Mrs H was in some unfathomable way responsible for her husband's sense of timing, humor, irony and individuality of vision.

What utter tosh. Absent anything substantial to hang onto -- and there's no greater indictment of this dross than that it should feature Hollywood's fattest man yet be entirely weightless itself -- Hopkins does what he can to save being confused with the Hindenberg whilst Mirren plays Mirren in much the same way that Britain's other grand dame is notable for one over-wrought performance after another of Dench playing Dench.

At its daftest when dragging the spectre of the eponymous psycho into Hitchcock's dreams -- the screenplay here is at its most desperate to explain. . . something, anything -- and most boring when purporting to represent a so-what-who-could-care-less liaison between Alma and some bloke whose presence doesn't even register, this really is movie-making of the worst kind: flaccid, fatuous and facile. It may have Hitchcock's name as its title, but of the man himself in the actual movie, there's no sign at all.

Verdict: not worth even 1 out of 10.
Joyous, watch it, love it.
Reluctantly watched this on the small screen of an aircraft and suffered the irritating interruptions from aircrew. I'm no film buff but many that consider themselves to be will watch this and complain that Hopkins didn't get Hitch right or that the prosthetic make-up was wrong or whatever. Worth watching and forgetting that you think you know the history of the main character but you'd have to know to some degree to enjoy the last line which made me laugh through my tears. Made even more wonderful by Helen Mirren who portrayed a devoted wife, which made me realise how lucky I am with my own but then she is having an affair! I got that wrong too, total belief in her Svengali. I'll watch it again and next time not on the wretched aircraft screen.
Enjoyable (if Narrow) When it Stays On Point, it Finds Itself Frequently Distracted
There's plenty of meat to roast here - the character of Alfred Hitchcock alone could carry most screenplays - but the plot constantly finds itself caught up in dry, semi-interesting wrinkles at the expense of the main attraction. In its best moments, when Hitchcock is allowed to be his sarcastic, dismissive self, it's loads of fun, if a bit indulgent. As the second act stretches on, though, those occasions become fewer and further between. Anthony Hopkins can be quite convincing in the lead role, but he's also inconsistent - in certain scenes you'd swear Hitch is alive and well, while in others it's just Hannibal Lecter in makeup with a blubbery accent. Helen Mirren, who plays his wife Alma, fares much better but is often held captive by stuffy, unwanted elaborative scenes. While Hitchcock remains focused on the task at hand (that is, the conception and production of Psycho) it's a guilty pleasure, perhaps crowded with too many nods and winks. The problem is, it provides just enough of that to tease what could've been, then redirects us to the misplaced, seen-this-before relationship drama it actually is.
Absolutely Brilliant!
This has to be one of the best films of all time! The acting was sensational, the cast was brilliant and Antony Hopkins delivered a world class performance! Some very suspenseful moments, and some really grizzly scenes, implied and shown but that's what Hitchcock was all about! An absolutely brilliant film. Me and my mate went too see it and we loved it! And we're only 13 and 14 so as you can imagine, we don't have much of an historical streak but I must say it was really quite brilliant! The acting from all of the cast was really good, and I loved Helen's astounding performance. The actor's were really good, I saw this film quite skeptical at first, but it was fantastic! Truly, I'm saying this from the bottom of my heart, go see Hitchcock now, its the best film this year and a great representation on the life of the genius Hitchcock himself!
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