FILM REVIEW: HITCHCOCK (12A)

When British stars of such Oscar-winning pedigree as Anthony Hopkins and Helen Mirren made a commitment to this biopic – they must have thought this was the platform for further Academy honours.

But despite great performances from Hopkins in the title role as legendary horror/thriller director Alfred Hitchcock and Mirren as his producer wife Alma Reville, the movie as a whole doesn’t quite set the screen alight.

With a disjointed story that fails to deliver the expected controversy or intrigue, it is simply an intermittently interesting yarn that leads to a hit-and-miss affair that will fade from memory pretty quickly.

It isn’t directly an in-depth biopic of Hitchcock as such, instead going down the same route as Spielberg’s Lincoln by chronicling a short period in his life – mainly his relationship with Alma during the controversial 1959 production of game-changing horror Psycho.

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After his recent thriller success with North by Northwest, Hitchcock stuns Paramount studio execs by gambling on a film loosely inspired by the gruesome crimes of Wisconsin murderer and grave robber Ed Gein (played by Michael Wincott in flashbacks).

But as the stress and anxiety of making Psycho takes over the life of the infamous director – and his obvious affection for his leading ladies, this time in the form of the famous murdered-in-the-shower actress Janet Leigh (Scarlett Johansson) – his marriage becomes strained when Alma seeks solace with fellow writer Whitfield Cook (Danny Huston) at his beachside retreat.

Sadly, despite Hopkins seemingly nailing the nuances of the great man – with great support from Mirren (who garnered a BAFTA nom) and a surprisingly strong performance from Johansson – director Sacha Gervasi wastes the opportunity with quite a banal interpretation of the source material.

The controversies surrounding Psycho and Alfred/Alma’s relationship is simply not ‘fleshed-out’ enough and should have warranted an intriguing film that probably deserved to span more than two hours if done so properly.

But this scatty production is done and dusted in about ninety minutes, and really makes a mockery of the efforts of the lead stars – providing only a mildly interesting footnote in movie history.

Sadly, underneath this all there was obviously a plausible Oscar contender waiting to break out with better script writing and direction.

Ultimately it doesn’t display any of the Hitchcockian qualities that made him one of the greatest director’s Hollywood has ever produced.

Gavin Miller

Cast: Anthony Hopkins, Helen Mirren, Scarlett Johansson, Jessica Biel, Danny Huston, Toni Collette, Michael Stuhlbarg, James D’Arcy, Kurtwood Smith, Richard Portnow, Michael Wincott, Ralph Macchio

Running Time: 1hr 35mins

Director: Sacha Gervasi [youtube id=”_Uw6fweoB8E” width=”600″ height=”350″]

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