Wednesday, 6 February 2013

Hitchcock, dir. Sacha Gervasi, wr. John J. McLaughlin, based on Alfred Hitchcock and the Making of Psycho by Stephen Rebello, st. Anthony Hopkins, Helen Mirren, Scarlett Johansson, Toni Collette, Danny Huston, Jessica Biel, James D'Arcy, Michael Wincott

Hitchcock by Sacha Gervasi, currently developing the remake of Morten Tyldum's Jo Nesbo novel Headhunters, here delivers a biopic of the great British director that is a lot of fun despite being neither incisive nor thorough enough to truly tantalise. What we do get though is a film that retains momentum of orbit thanks to the central performance by Anthony Hopkins as Alfred. Certain that Robert Bloch's icky novel Psycho is a palpable hit of source material genius, and much to the chagrin of his financial backers and studio heads, Hitchcock obsessively pursues the endeavour via a self-financed operation, whilst visions of Ed Gein (the notorious murderer and inspiration for the Bloch novel) galvanise his energies for the film and fuel his suspicion of his wife's infidelity. Hopkins, portly and precise in body and voice sells Hitchcock as a man with a singular vision, bloody-minded and resolute. Gervasi is careful to illustrate Hitchcock as a man who was fascinated by his female actors and wasn't afraid to manipulate in order to get what he wanted, but stops short of selling him out as a Savillian sexual predator as depicted in the other recent AH biopic - Julian Jarrold's HBO film The Girl. Mirren as Alma, Hitch's long-suffering spouse, putting up with the open flirtations with leading ladies, cuts a sympathetic figure of wifely support, sowing the seed of suggestion that he lose his main protagonist early on in Psycho and even stepping in to handle production when he falls ill. Hitchcock may be less pruriently compelling than its HBO counterpart, and feels suspiciously more like a TV movie than a bona fide feature, but as a rough guide, it serves.