Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Hitchcock (2012) - Movie Review

A movie based on a book about the making of a movie.  If this loops on itself more, it'll create a singularity that will destroy us all.

Hitchcock is a behind-the-scenes look at the making of Psycho, a movie that starred Anne Heche and Vince Vaughn.  I'm kidding, of course.  That remake sure was a misfire, wasn't it?  I actually knew very little about the movie Hitchock going in, but I'm always up for a good biopic, especially when it's about such a fascinating person and iconic film.

We begin as Alfred Hitchcock is looking for an idea for his next film.  He wants to do something a little different, and thinks he's found it when he reads the book Psycho by Robert Bloch.  The studio, however, isn't too thrilled with his choice of project, so Hitchcock decides to take a risk and finance the film himself.  He's believes so strongly in the film, that he even has all copies of the book bought up, so that nobody would have the twists spoiled.  Even back then Hitchcock understood the value of no spoilers.  These days any asshat with a blog can spoil a movie for you.  Wait a second...

It's funny to me that a well respected director like Hitchcock didn't have full confidence from the studio when wanting to do a different project.  When you consider the crap that gets made these days, it blows my mind that he'd have difficulty getting a film made.  It also goes to show you how different the business is now.

Hitchcock is based on the book Alfred Hitchcock and the Making of Psycho by Stephen Rebello. From what I hear, it's a fantastic and extremely well researched book that I'm going to have to pick up after watching the film.  Despite being based off such a well respected book, the movie version of it felt a little thin.  I think the problem director Sacha Gervasi (Anvil: The Story of Anvil), and writer John J. McLaughlin had was that they couldn't decide on what to cut from the film.  There's a lot going on, so you have a mix of the film being a little tonally inconsistent and lacking depth in a few key areas.  For example, you learn about his relationship with his wife Alma (Helen Mirren) and their difficulties.  This was an area I wish the film would have gone a little more in depth into.

There are some funny moments, but you never feel like they were making a comedy, and there isn't enough about his personality to come away thinking it's a character study. Throughout the film you see these exchanges between Hitchcock and Ed Gein, an actual serial killer that the character of Norman Bates was based on.  I wasn't clear what these scenes were meant to represent, so they felt odd and seemed like they could have been removed in favor of focusing more on the making of Psychoand Hitchcock's personality and relationships.

I find it a little ironic that a movie about "The Master of Suspense" contained very little actual suspense.  We all know how this is going to turn out.  It's not like we're getting an alternate universe were he's never able to complete the film, or it's a bomb.  It's still fun to watch it all play out though.

As you'd guess, the strength of the film are the performances. Anytime you get Anthony Hopkins and Helen Mirren as your leads, you know you're going to get a well-acted film.  Mirren is wonderful and you see how Alma was 'the woman behind the man'.  She would have carried the movie by herself were it not for the performance of Anthony Hopkins as Hitchcock.  It seems like kind of an odd choice to get someone so well known to play Hitchcock, but the makeup job is so good, that it actually took me a bit before I realized it was him.  I thought Hopkins was playful and it made me like Hitchcock all the more.  Scarlett Johansson plays Anne Heche...I mean Janet Leigh and I found her to be very pleasant.  Jessica Biel and James D'Arcy have very small roles as Vera Miles and Anthony Perkins.  You'll recognize much of the supporting cast and I was surprised to see people of their caliber play such small roles.  Even The Karate Kid shows up.

Lastly, I wanted to give a small shout out to my favorite theater The Vine (www.vinecinema.com) in Livermore.  They upgraded their screens and projectors just this past week, and boy what an upgrade! The film looked fantastic.  It was bright and clear, with HD quality that rivaled my 3D TV.

Whether you're a fan of Hitchcock, the movie Psycho, or just like a good behind-the-scenes biopic, there's a lot to like about Hitchcock.  I had fun with the film and enjoyed it, but couldn't help thinking there needed to be more.  You have great performances from the cast, but it only scratches the surface.  This isn't something you need to rush out and see, but I do think it's worth seeing.

3.5 (out of 5) Death Stars


  1. I haven't seen this one yet, but I noticed you said you wanted to know more about Hitchcock's relationship with his wife. I think you should check out the HBO movie The Girl. It focuses more on Hitchcock's obsession with Tippy Hedren, his The Birds actress. I really liked it, but it definitely puts Hitchcock in a bad light.


    1. Thanks for the recommendation (and the comment). Someone else also recommended The Girl to me recently and said it was just a better Hitchcock biopic overall compared to this. I'll definitely have to check it out.

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