Reviews of movies from my giant DVD tower, and more.
Released on December 14, 2012
Directed by Sacha Gervasi
Written by John J. McLaughlin, based on the excellent book by Stephen Rebello
Cast: Anthony Hopkins, Helen Mirren, Scarlett Johansson, Danny Huston, Toni Collette, Michael Stuhlbarg, Michael Wincott, Jessica Biel, James D’Arcy, Richard Portnow, Kurtwood Smith, Ralph Macchio, Paul Schackman, Rene Auberjonois
I’ve been a Hitchcock fan for many years, and was really looking forward to what I thought was going to be a documentary-like account of the famed director as he worked between 1959 and 1960 on the seminal slasher film Psycho. Instead, and much to my chagrin, this movie-making aspect was delegated to background decoration, and the filmmakers chose to center their story on the relationship between Hitchcock and his wife Alma, and her supposed romantic interest in their friend and occasional collaborator, Whitfield Cook, throughout the film’s production.
Which was unfortunate, because the behind-the-scenes book this movie was based on, Alfred Hitchcock and the Making of Psycho, was an entertaining and informative start-to-finish account of the Psycho experience, and its content would’ve made for a great film if taken from that context. Sadly, it wasn’t, and in the end Hitchcock suffered for it, becoming nothing more than a soap-opera drama with a horror production side story.
And for me, that was the glaring problem: the story. Though portions of the book made it into the screenplay, they only served as a vague backdrop to the marital problems—that is, if you consider flirting a problem—being suffered by the Hitchcocks, that screenwriter John J. McLaughlin seemed so intent on focusing on. The character depictions, the re-creations of the era, the set design, the historical aspects related to 1950s filmmaking, and even the film’s Technicolor-like cinematography were all first-rate, and made the lack of a relevant narrative that much more frustrating.
At first glance, the casting choices may have seemed absurd as well, but they actually worked, and kudos should go to those actors for bringing a convincing level of believability to their roles. Of course, Anthony Hopkins had the most difficult task, playing such an iconic and recognizable person as Alfred Hitchcock, but he pulled it off, right down to the director’s trademark mannerisms and idiosyncrasies. For these reasons, I’m giving the film a respectable rating, and though I’m sure many of you won’t have the same reservations I had going in, I’m still convinced the end result should’ve been plenty more rewarding, even for the everyday viewer who is not a Hitchcock aficionado. (6/10)