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Hitchcock - Cinemaholic Movie Reviews
one person's obsessive addiction to film
Directing: B+
Acting: B+
Writing: B-
Cinematography: B
Editing: B

The reviews for Hitchcok have been somewhat mixed, albeit on the more positive side, and in the opening scenes I found myself wondering what people's problem with it was. It starts with great promise, not least because of Anthony Hopkins's performance, which I must admit had me slightly worried. How could someone as iconic as Hopkins play someone else equally iconic, for different reasons?

Well, never fear: it's not quite like looking at Alfred Hitchcok with Hannibal Lecter's voice. Granted, Hopkins still sounds fairly like Hopkins, but the physical transformation is so well done that the voice is easy to get past. Hopkins doesn't impersonate Hitchcock so much as channel his spirit. It's easy to believe you're looking at Alfred Hitchcock.

The surprise of Hitchcock is also its slight detriment: the misguided decision to focus far more on Hitchcock's relationship with his wife, Alma Reville, than on the making of the movie Psycho. The latter is what the trailers strongly suggested. I was a bit disappointed by this, given how many times my mother told me about the cultural impact of Pyscho, which was massive. This movie barely touches on that, and would have been improved greatly by taking more time with it.

Instead, this is basicially a love story. It's a rather unconventional one, to its credit. The couple is in their sixties, and perhaps best of all, Alma is played by the reliably lovely Helen Mirren. The part isn't quite as meaty as Mirren deserves, but it's close, and it's not her fault the movie focuses too much on her. If a movie has to over-focus on a character, having Helen Mirren in the part sure makes it easier to endure.

In this story, Hitchcock obsesses over a suspicion that Alma is having an affair with a writing collaborator (Danny Huston). This plot thread, which gets tedious almost as soon as it starts, runs concurrent to the story of financial strain when Alfred Hitchcok decides to fund the production of Psycho due to the studio refusing.

And as great as Helen Mirren is, the stuff about the productio of Psycho is by far the most interesting -- even though they were not given permission to use any actual footage of the movie (Psycho was a Paramount film; curiously, Hitchcock is Fox Searchlight). But here is where the supporting parts truly impress: Toni Collette is all but unrecognizable as Hitchcock's brunette assistant; Scarlett Johansson doesn't quite evoke Janet Leigh specifically but still manages to disappear into her part; and if there's any uncanny impersonation, it's James D'Arcy as Anthony Perkins.

This does mean that there's inconsistency in the manner of portraying real people by several different actors in Hitchcock, but in their own way, they're all good enough. The one I could really have lived without was Michael Wincott as Ed Gein, the inspiration for the book on which Psycho was based. Here, Gein haunts Hitchcock's dreams, occasionally re-enacting his real-life crimes. It feels kind of like filler in the space of what otherwise might have been clips of the actual film Psycho.

Hitchcock starts with great promise and then squanders it a bit, but not by enough to keep it from being good entertainment.

Anthony Hopkins channels the spirit of HITCHCOCK.

Overall: B
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