Hitchcock (2012) - Can't Stop the Movies
Can't Stop the Movies
22Dec/120

Hitchcock (2012)

Danny no longer writes for Can't Stop the Movies, and can be reached at his fantastic site Pre-Code.com

Hitchcock (2012)Danny // Indifferent

It is my opinion that any film that is about another film should at least address said film's style and meaning beyond surface platitudes. What I do I mean by that? Simply that a movie about the making of Psycho shouldn't look like the lavish Technicolor To Catch a Thief. It's unconscionable. And that may be the meanest thing I can say about Hitchcock, a film that director Sacha Gervasi uses to examine Alfred Hitchcock's life as one would use a spotlight to examine darkened room.

Here we have Hitchcock (Anthony Hopkins) coming off the success of North By Northwest and feeling stuck in a rut. His devoted wife, Alma (Helen Mirren), is also beginning to feel the same way as their collaboration feels more perfunctory and less romantic. The tensions here take center stage as they battle over creative differences on Hitchcock's decision to make his next film Psycho.

The sun soaked making of Psycho.

The sun soaked making of Psycho.

This decision comes from impudence, and indeed this film sees Mr. Hitchcock as a childish brat with a predilection towards unseemly nightmarish behaviors. He obsesses over his leading ladies, Janet Leigh (Scarlett Johanssen) and Mera Viles (Jessica Biel). He has visions of the murderer Ed Gein. He suspects his wife of an affair and stalks her. He's a relentless ball of id frustration and repression embodied by an artist trying to release it in the healthiest way available.

Meanwhile, he's making Psycho. The censor wants cuts, the studio wants to be able to supervise, and every dollar the Hitchcock's possess goes into the making of it.

Sounds thrilling, right? Dark humor, a few shocks, and a plot that never lets up; these are what the film strives for but never quite achieves. Turning the making of a Hitchcock film into a light play on an actual Hitchcock film feels dissatisfying, but I mentioned that before. More frustrating may be that the film only circles around Psycho's production.

The meat of it is whether the marriage can survive the multiple crisis presented to it, presupposing (correctly) that the thrills aren't as potent for a movie we already know has been made. Unfortunately, this, too, lacks the thrills. We know Hitchcock was messed up, but Hopkins makes him into a perverted Oliver Hardy than a figure of mystery. Mirren also makes due with slim pickings, playing a much more dull women who simply has to choose between romance and adventure. The least the writer could have done is perverted her in an equally odd way to give her some heft compared to the anointed Master of Suspense.

Anthony Hopkins looks blubbery.

Anthony Hopkins looks blubbery.

Of course, this film stands in the shadows of reality. People will nitpick the movie's presentation, calling out events or characters being off from historical sources, and someone will categorize all of the film's attempts to bend reality into its cinematic form. I do not care about this. The film's presentations of who these people are in the film is lacking, and there are large chunks of Psycho's production that we see that seems in there simply to say that the movie is about the making of Psycho.

The screenwriter does not dedicate the picture to either of its plots very well, and feels unfocused. There is some good humor, some good performances, and some good shots. Hitchcock remains too much of an enigma, and, as an homage, moribund.

Posted by Danny

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