Saturday, November 27, 2021


Movie Name:
Year of Release: 2012
Director: Sacha Gervasi
Starring: Anthony Hopkins, Helen Mirren, Scarlett Johansson, Toni Collette, Danny Huston, Jessica Biel, James D'Arcy, Michael Stuhlbarg, Richard Portnow, Ralph Machio, Kurtwood Smith, Wallace Langham, Kai Lennox, Tara Summers
Genre: Drama
Score out of ten (whole numbers only): 4
Watch it on Amazon

Synopsis and Review:
Writer/Director Sacha Gervasi made a name for himself firstly solely as a writer, having crafted the script for Steven Spielberg's "The Terminal". "Hitchcock" is his feature directorial debut, and oddly enough he's not the credited screenwriter, with that credit falling to John J. McLaughlin, who adapted the book from Stephen Rebello. The narrative focuses on Alfred Hitchcock and his wife, Alma Reville's, and their adventures in getting the film project "Psycho" off the ground. The film takes place right after the successful run of "North by Northwest", which came out in 1959. Hitchcock, then about to turn 60, fears the industry is looking at him as a has been, and he's in dire need to come out with another solid and iconic project. "Psycho" is their bet, but since no studio is willing to bankroll it, Hitchcock and Alma decide to bank it themselves, with Paramount Studios distributing it. As the casting gets underway, and Hitchcock's obsessions with his leading ladies starts surfacing, Alma gets an opportunity from a mutual friend of the couple, to work on a project on her own, since for the most part she's been always an integral part of her husband's creative process. As shooting on the film starts, and Alma's side project also begins taking shape, the director fears his wife is embarking on an adventure of her own, something that gives him pause (and even terrifies him) on the future of his own life moving forward.
Films which tackle the process of creating films themselves, can be a challenging topic to illustrate. Richard Rush's "The Stuntman" was a good attempt at the topic, and Sacha Gervasi's goes an extra mile, since he attempts to document and bring to life the gestational process of how "Psycho" was brought to the big screen, in the process illustrating the creative dynamics surrounding Alfred Hitchcock and Alma Reville's partnership. With such a larger than life personality in the shape of Hitchcock, the challenge always lies in showing us the humanity and who the person behind the facade actually is, and sadly the film barely touches upon it, without truly investigating what always motivated that uniquely talented individual. The film for the most part, settles in giving an idea of Hitchcock the director, one that is squarely on par with what has been known from his cameos on his own films, and from several autobiographies and other books written on him since his passing (in 1980). Where the film does provide some interesting aspects, which are sadly not well explored, is his relationship with Alma, played impeccably by Helen Mirren. The particular dynamics of those two deserves a better film, one that fully documents their relationship, even if it is a particularly turbulent episode in their lives (that in itself would make for a compelling feature). This film hints at it, but goes in a different direction, choosing to focus on saucier details of the making of "Psycho", never truly giving much dimension to the supporting characters that populate Hitchcock's film or life. Anthony Hopkins who is typically such a brilliant actor, fails to bring Hitchcock to life, something that can be witnessed in his less than stellar physical mimicking, but particularly in how he sounds. The very talented supporting cast has very little to do, though James D'Arcy does manage to bring Anthony Perkins to life with what little screen time he has available. The cinematography from Jeff Cronenweth is stupendous, as is the score from Danny Elfman and costume design from Julie Weiss. It's a film with an interesting story to tell at its core, but one that fails to truly do justice to its characters or for that matter, be memorable.