Review by Pete Mason
Hollywood loves to pay homage to the town, the industry and the history of film (“The Artist”), and a recent romance with Alfred Hitchcock has spawned an HBO movie, “The Girl,” and Sacha Gervasi’s “Hitchcock,” detailing the efforts it took to produce 1960’s classic horror “Psycho.” One of the greatest directors in American film history never got his due respect in Hollywood (Oscar-wise, at least), and these two recent movies – “Hitchcock” more than “The Girl” – seek to put the proper historical light on the director.
Ten minutes into “Hitchcock,” you forget that Anthony Hopkins is wearing a fat suit and make-up, as Hitch (hold the cock) comes to life. The elocution by Hopkins perfectly captures Hitch’s accent and articulation, giving the portly mortician a glaring and looming presence over his picture.
Helen Mirren’s Alma Reville excels as her husband Hitch keeps her on the periphery of the film’s script and production, and in the process, Mirren landed a Golden Globe nomination for Best Actress in a Drama. Her dalliance with writer Whitfield Cook (Dan Huston) seemed quite needless in the film’s story, only adding to Hitch’s stress and simply showcasing the struggle of making the film as a couple and with their own financing. Jessica Biel and James D’arcy bring the small parts of Vera Miles and Anthony Hopkins to life, while Scarlett Johansson is a natural as Janet Leigh, as Johansson is in nearly all her films.
One of the later scenes is a true delight and showcases the director’s dark humor, where Hitch waits patiently in the theater lobby for the audience’s reaction to the “Psycho” shower scene – conducting the shrill strings and audience shrieks that arise with each drop of the knife wielding arm. Hopkins falls into the character and reanimates the great master of suspense.
With some subtle references to his films, TV show and other aspects of his career thrown in for good measure throughout the script and background, “Hitchcock” finally gives Hitch a fair Hollywood treatment in his most famous film, opening up the eyes of a new generation of movie fans.