Written by Joe Langham
Alfred Hitchcock was one of the most influential and well-known directors in cinematic history. Anthony Hopkins can be regarded as Hitchcock’s acting equivalent. These two combine in Sacha Gervasi’s Hitchcock, with Anthony Hopkins starring as the great director. Psycho, the film at the centre of this one, which revolutionised and influenced both horror and cinema, in general, holds almost as much esteem as both these men.
Hitchcock is only Gervasi’s second feature film, his first being the similarly genred Anvil: The Story of Anvil. Despite the title, the film does not delve too deeply into the man behind the camera, but rather his creation in front of it. The adapted book, Alfred Hitchcock and the Making of Psycho, would probably have made a more suitable title. It follows Alfred Hitchcock through the trials and tribulations of both his personal life and the production Psycho, which Alfred Hitchcock put everything on the line to make including his house and reputation. The film does not disappoint and packs a wonderfully talented cast of seasoned and rising stars including James D’Arcy, Scarlett Johansson and Jessica Biel.
Hopkins as Hitchcock is almost childlike in demeanour and makes it hard to believe that a man of such behaviour was behind such savage films. His humorous remarks and witticisms are a credit to both the writers for their creation and Hopkins for his magnificent delivery. He gets right into the mind and skin of his character and although there was little doubt about it, pulls it off brilliantly. Dame Helen Mirren plays opposite Hopkins as Hitchcock’s wife, Alma Reville. Both highly revered actors put in brilliant performances as expected, and Hopkins despite not strictly being the star focus of the film, excels in his portrayal of Alfred Hitchcock. The talent surrounding the main couple in the film is just as good. The ever improving Scarlett Johansson plays Janet Leigh and Danny Huston plays Whitfield Cook, a rival of Hitchcock’s.
The film’s director, Sacha Gervasi, also looks to have a promising future on the back of Hitchcock. And it does not look like it will be too long before Gervasi is seen again with another biographical film in the works. Gervasi has found his strong point and is sticking with it. Hitchcock reference galore is laced throughout the film including Rear Window and The Birds. All these homages, both subtle and lesser so, turn the film into a puzzle for Hitchcock fans, as they try to spot all the references to his films. The opening Ed Gein scene also appears to act as a double nod to both Anthony Hopkins and the character he portrays, since both Norman Bates from Psycho and Jame Gumb from Silence of the Lambs were based on the same character. This opening scene also sets a nice foundation for the film as it was the spark of inspiration for Hitchcock and sparks the beginning of the film.
Gervasi makes use of techniques famed and favoured by Hitchcock including voyeuristic shots and close ups. This gives the film an all the more Hitchcock-esque feeling stylistically. The soundtrack includes the famous music from the Psycho shower scene and this; along with elements of storyline and film style make it feel at times as if you are watching Hitchcock starring in one of his own films. The film is well made and the brilliant cast tie it all together nicely. It is a treat for fans of Hitchcock and classical cinema, and an interesting insight into one of history’s greatest directors and films for the modern generation.
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