Hitchcock is the latest film to come from the Hitchcock craze that has struck America this year. Along with this film, which has gotten Oscar buzz, there has been an Alfred Hitchcock Masterpiece Collection released on Blu-Ray, and an HBO film titled The Girl which is a much darker film that highlights his sexual obsession with his leading lady, Tippi Hendren during the making of The Birds. Alfred Hitchcock is a legend and I highly recommend several of his pictures including the one that Hitchcock is about. This film is based on a book which tells the tale of the making of Psycho. Hitchcock personally financed the film and took a severe risk to make the film he wanted. If that sounds inspirational, don't go in thinking that because Hitchcock is far from inspirational. It's being marketed as a drama with comedic aspects but it honestly is a romantic comedy that tells a story of a romance between Hitchcock and Alma Reville, his wife and partner.
Hitchcock begins with the premiere of the Hitchcock classic North By Northwest, a big budget picture starring Cary Grant, Eve Marie Saint, and James Mason. A reporter asks Hitchcock (Anthony Hopkins) why he doesn't quit while he is ahead because he is 60. And at that moment, Hitchcock decides that he needs to do something new. He comes across Robert Bloch's book Psycho and decides that he will make a low budget horror movie. Hitchcock proposes the idea to the Paramount Executive Producer and he denies him, so he pays for the film himself. The production is out of control at first because his wife, Alma (Helen Mirren) is sick of his obsession with his leading ladies and crazy tendencies and goes off to work with Winfield Cook (Danny Huston). But eventually the film evovles into a romance between the two.
First off, I will say that despite several criticisms that I will list, I really enjoyed the film. It was a fun and well done homage to the Master of Suspense and one of my favorite directors. It really enjoyed all the Hitchcock and Hollywood references because after all I am a Hollywood buff and seeing that world come to life on the screen is a lot of fun. Anthony Hopkins is Hitchcock. I really bought him in the role and he honestly became the character. I know some people think he just did a Hitchcock impression but I found that his acting put me in the picture more because he was so much like Hitchcock. The cast is also impressive. There isn't an actor who did a bad job. Standouts include James D'Arcy as Anthony Perkins and Mirren as Reville. She brings a power to the role and you can see how much Hitchcock relied on her.
And also, the picture seemed relatively accurate. I have studied Hitchcock and I did a project on him for school, so I know quite a bit and there were only a few things that I thought were inaccurate. First off, I'm not quite sure why Ed Gein (Michael Wincott) kept popping up in the film. It was rather odd. It didn't really bug me but it seemed to highlight the thing that annoyed me the most. Hitchcock, from my point of view, was a man who was fascinated by the dark side of human behavior and what the impulses are for people to commit violent crimes. Hitchcock at times depicts him as a man who himself was susceptible to violent tenedencies. Now that may be true but I doubt that it was as severe as the film portrays them. But with everything else, it is spot on. Hitchcock was truly obsessed by his blonde leading ladies and the way that this film portrays him with that issue, I think is accurate. Also, his disputes with some of the stars were based on real life and that was a sigh of relief for me.
I had one problem with the film and it is both small and big. The fact that it deals so little with the actual making of Psycho fascinated me. It honestly focused on Alma being fed up with Alfred and going off with Winfield Cook to write a script. It has a lot more to do with relationships than it does with the actual making of the film which I think would have been a lot more interesting. Also, while I really liked all the film references and discussion of previous Hitchcock films, it got to a point where it wasn't natural anymore and it was forced. Like in a scene, a character would randomly say: "I loved Strangers on a Train and Rope, Mr. Hitchcock" and I was like cool, I like Strangers on a Train but what's the point of saying that. I don't know, it just became a little over-indulgent sometimes. It wasn't as natural as in a film like Argo, which was done a lot better when it comes to movie references.
But I felt like overall, Hitchcock was a solid film. It was certainly entertaining and it was briskly paced and it was very funny but it sometimes walked that line too closely between comedy and drama. This is a dramatic story and I'm not quite sure why they put so much humor in it but it is funny so I can't complain. The biggest thing is that there are some moments where you just go: "Ok, why is this happening." I did that during the film maybe three times. For the most part, these are minor criticisms but they do detract from the film a little. But still, especially if you're a Hitchcock or Hollywood fan, check this film out because you'll enjoy it quite a bit. I love the first and last scene, which contain references to both The Birds and Alfred Hitchcock Presents. I think that most people will have a good evening watching this film.
THE FINAL GRADE: B- (6.8.10)
Image Credits: IMDB