Movie Review: Hitchcock

Movie Review: Hitchcock

Anthony Hopkins delves into the mind of man behind the movies

By Mark HadleyWednesday 6 Feb 2013MoviesReading Time: 3 minutes

Anthony Hopkins brings Alfred Hitchcock to life in 'Hitchcock'.

RELEASE DATE: January 10 

Hitchcock is a limited release that’s well worth seeking out, not just for its amazing performance but its life-lesson on the importance of giving people not what they want, but what they need.

The film opens shortly after the release of the Cary Grant thriller North By Northwest. Its director, Alfred Hitchcock is dejected, convinced that the studios will have him doing spy thrillers the rest of his life and desperate to try something new. Searching for a new script, he hits on the pulp novel Psycho based on the horrific crimes of real-life murderer Ed Gein. Hitch determines to make the book his new project despite dire predictions from the media, the opposition of Paramount Studios and threats from US censors. However the more the legendary director sinks himself into the film, the more he suspects those around him including his wife and co-worker Alma. When visions of Gein appear to give him advice, Hitch has to decide whether he will finish his masterpiece with or without the one who loves him the most.
Hitchcock is a true story built around the 1959 filming of Psycho and is as swamped with stars as the director it unveils. It would be very hard to pick who puts in the best performance – Anthony Hopkins faultlessly brings to life one of cinema’s most iconic figures; Helen Mirren gives believable heart to a wife coping with her husband’s career-crisis; Toni Collette is so absorbed in the character of Hitchcock’s secretary, she’s practically invisible; Scarlet Johansson and James D’Arcy and near replicas of their historical alter egos Janet Leigh and Anthony Perkins. But the best re-enactment has to be the film’s recreation of Hitchcock’s suspense. Though the plot’s already history, there’s a real anxiety about whether or not Hitch and Alma will be able to navigate the complex trials that tempt older couples. At heart this is a love story in which a husband and wife discover each other again by doing what they do best together. 
The struggle that drives Hitchcock is Hitch and Alma’s determination to hold back what people want in favour of delivering something better than they can imagine. Paramount executive Barney Balaban is adamant Hitch should deliver a safe story, but his director isn’t interested in idle pleasures:
Hitchcock: “My contract guarantees me final cut on all of my pictures.”
Balaban: “It also states that Paramount doesn’t have to release anything that might cause the studio embarrassment!”
Hitchcock: “As opposed to those last five Martin and Lewis pictures you’re so proud of?” 
Anyone who’s seen Dean Martin or Jerry Lewis fluff next to a Hitchcock film knows it’s certainly a matter of chalk and cheese. But this fictional conversation highlights the very real truth that people often won’t recognize something excellent until they experience it – Christianity being an excellent case in point. Too often the life-giving words of Jesus are portrayed as the death of happiness. The Bible encourages everyone to, ‘taste and see that the Lord is good’. Jesus assertion that we can only find our life if we lose it may appear as silly as Hitchcock’s assertions, but the value of words lie in the people who speak them. Psycho was a success story unforeseen by everyone but Alma and Hitch. Jesus’ life makes him infinitely more credible. We’d do well to take a lesson from Hitchcock and continue to put the Gospel before our friends as the greatest story ever told.