Hitchcock is a light hearted look into the life and psychosis of the man who made Psycho, with Anthony Hopkins donning a fat suit to play the part but not quite becoming the legend.
2012 has become the year of the Hitch, with his 1959 classic Vertigo crowned as the “greatest film of all time” by Sight and Sound Magazine, and two movies (Hitchcock, The Girl) made about the “Master of Suspense”.
Of the two movies Hitchcock is the more glamorous production, fronted by two Oscar winners (Anthony Hopkins and Helen Mirren) and featuring a supporting cast of recognisable faces (Scarlett Johansson, Jessica Biel, Toni Collette).
The film focuses on the making of Psycho, that ground breaking classic that shaped American horror cinema and brought forth the use of demented psychosis in the horror/thriller genre. Such are the results of basing a film on the maniacal crimes of Ed Gein, the infamous Wisconsin grave robber and killer who murdered two women and used their corpses as furniture and clothing.
It is that more a shame then that Hitchcock does not live up to the legacy of its subject. Directed by Sasha Gervasi (he behind the great documentary Anvil!), Hitchcock is a film that constantly proclaims its importance but never lives up to it with a light, almost comical tone clashing against the myth of Hitchcock as a talented albeit troubled mind, with a disturbing obsession with his leading ladies. Some scene goes as far to depict him as a peeping tom, where others have him savouring over pictures of his leading ladies with frothy excess, (The Girl would take this even further).
Playing the role of Hitchcock (and indeed the films drawcard) is Anthony Hopkins. When pictures first surfaced of Hopkins complete in fat-suit and tonnes of make-up it was clear that they were going all-out with this portrayal, and while Hopkins does give a valiant effort it’s just shy of a completely immersive performance. In fact when his Hitchcock enters into those dark recesses, one can’t help but hear Hannibal Lector through the layers of latex, such is the power that Hopkins’ most memorable creation still holds when things get dark.
Fairing better is Helen Mirren as Hitchcock’s wife Alma. Without the distraction of an iconic figure to live up to, Mirren is free to make the character of Alma her own. By many account Alma was an equal creative partner to Hitchcock’s success and Mirren effortlessly plays the strength, ingenuity and independence that her role asks for, stealing scenes from what should have been Hopkins grand central performance.
Htichcock isn’t by any means a bad movie. For all of its faults it is still a fascinating account into the making of one of the greatest movies, which is sure to be a treat for film buffs. Its success, however, relies on Hopkins performance as Hitchcock and with the Oscar winner only getting ¾ of the way there, so too does the film follow suit.