When making a film about something that actually happened, especially a film about one of the more iconic filmmaker to ever step on to a movie set. "Hitchcock" is an interesting little slice of the man's life during one of the more stressful times in the filmmakers career during the production of one of his landmark and seminal pictures. While it is more than a little flawed it takes a real close look at the unique relationship and love affair that made Alfred Hitchcock the iconic storyteller that he was.
Ultimately plagued by a reckless ego and nagging self doubt, Hollywood legend Alfred Hitchcock (Anthony Hopkins) becomes obsessed with a grisly murder studio that no studio in town wants to back. Determined to prove everyone wrong, he risks his reputation, his home and even the love of his loyal wife Alma (Helen Mirren) as he sets out to make the film. Only time will tell if he can get over his own insecurities and ego along and accept the help of his leading lady and key creative partner to make the enduring and unexpected masterpiece he knew he had in him.
If anyone ever thought that the director “Anvil: The Story of Anvil” (Sacha Gervasi) follow up would be high profile bio pic (that isn’t really a true bio pic to being with) then you’d be a liar because the results were admittedly a very odd marriage that just didn’t work as well that was probably hoped for given the pedigree of all involved. Adapted from the book by Stephen Rebello, which was a work of non-fiction surrounding the difficulties he had while making Psycho, it certainly is a story that moves and flows with relative ease but since it uses the facts surrounding the production fairly liberally with less concern for some remote historical accuracy and focuses more on storytelling, it is bound to infuriate the classic film fans who will undoubtedly flock to the film hoping for a glimpse at this master’s work. It works on a fun level as it fairly effectively crafts its own image of what Hitchcock would be like as a character, but it almost suffers under the weight of its very own title with some misguided expectations .
While focusing on the love story between Hitch and Alma was admittedly an interesting direction to take the narrative in, so many of the events in the film and in the man’s life felt like they were getting glossed over, if you’re going in blind then it’s fine but if you have any knowledge of the man’s life that they are attempting to reference; you will be infuriated by what gets left by the way side for an attempt at a story that ends up being a fairly weak and somewhat ham-handed, even at the best of times. Despite this half-assed attempt at creating any kind of gravitas about the man’s life, stars Hopkins and Mirren do manage some shining moments if only through their very presence on screen.
As the master of suspense Alfred Hitchcock, Hopkins successfully chews the scenery at every turn playing the part with a certain gleeful abandon, the problem is that it doesn’t always work as well as it should given the crux of the narrative. Helen Mirren matches Hopkins turn for turn as his loyal partner in movie making and in life Alma Reville and is probably the most grounded and realistic character in the film as her frustration and overall love for Hitch come through and it makes for a solid turn with a likable character that the audience can get behind. However after our two stars, the stunt casting gets a little out of control, as it feels like almost everyone in Hollywood had a small supporting role in this film, there were so many familiar faces including Scarlet Johansson, Jessica Biel, Toni Collette, Danny Huston & Michael Stuhlbarg just to name a few that is was actually pretty distracting.
Picture and sound quality on the Blu-Ray were first rate as expected as the special featurettes on this combo back release include seven historical and behind the scenes featurettes about the making of the film and the man himself, a deleted scene, an in-character PSA to turn off your cell phones in theatre, candid behind the scenes footage shot on Sacha Gervasi's cell phone and a feature length commentary from Sacha Gervasi and author Stephen Rebello.
Ultimately, making a fictional film from a book steeped in fact is a little weird, but at the very least "Hitchcock" serves as an interesting enough film that may enrage any hardcore Hitchcock fans where much like "Psycho" for better and for worse you simply can't look away. It's hardly perfect given its weak narrative that was overrun by name actors, but in a way it would almost make the master of suspense himself proud because at least it was never boring.
2 out of 5 stars.
"Hitchcock" is now available for rent on DVD & Blu-Ray at video stores all across the country as well as via all on demand providers. You can also find it available for purchase at all major retailers like amazon.ca, iTunes or HMV.