Review: Hitchcock

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Hitchcock

One of the greatest horror films of all time is Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho. Just a few short months ago I hadn't seen this classic movie. I wrote up my experience watching it for Horror's Not Dead: Sins of Omission: Psycho. Little did I know then that a biopic was being filmed that would document the process of making this classic film. The biopic is called Hitchcock, and it opens in Austin theaters today.

Possessing a great cast and strong story, Hitchcock tells the story of Alfred Hitchcock, his wife Alma Reville and the difficulty they experienced bringing Psycho to the big screen. While still under contract to Paramount Studios, one of Hitchcock's assistants brings a book to the director's attention: Robert Bloch's Psycho. Psycho is a fictional story based loosely on the life of the infamous serial killer Ed Gein. Soon after reading the book, Hitchcock decides it will be the foundation for his next film. When Paramount refuses to finance the film, Hitchcock decides to produce the film himself. After the director mortgages his house, production begins. The remainder of the movie is spent with Hitchcock as he's producing, casting, shooting and ultimately promoting his horror masterpiece.

The performances delivered by the film's lead actors are remarkable. Anthony Hopkins delivers a perfect representation of one of the world's greatest and most well known directors. Accompanying Hopkins on his journey are Helen Mirren and Scarlett Johansson. Mirren plays Hitchcock's wife and uncredited film making partner Alma Reville, and Scarlett Johansson plays Psycho's lead actress Janet Leigh. Both of these actresses deliver amicable performances in their respective roles.

Another high quality element of Hitchcock is the story itself. The making of the film Psycho is a story in creative fortitude. Hitchcock went "all-in" to bring his masterpiece to the silver screen. He risked his home, challenged the powerful heads of a major film studio and took on censors in order to keep his vision intact. At the end of the day the director succeeded where no one thought he would.

Despite a such a strong set of performances and a compelling story, a number of curious elements take away from the movie itself. The first element is a series of nightmares Hitchcock experiences. These nightmares are occupied by Ed Gein and add nothing to the story. The dream sequences are a curious addition to an already compelling story. The second element that takes away from the core story is an infidelity subplot between Alma Reville and Whitfield Cook. This is another curious bit of speculation that adds nothing to the story itself and appears to be filler to give Mirren something to do.

For some viewers, these strange tangents may take away from the more interesting and higher quality aspects of Hitchcock. If you take away these distracting elements, you're left with a film with an engaging story accompanied by strong performances. In all honesty, seeing how Psycho's shower scene was shot is worth the prices of admission alone.

[Read Debbie's interview with Hitchcock filmmaker Sacha Gervasi for more details about the movie.]