Hitchcock Review

It’s been a long, tense day; a day filled with regret and fear. You’ve looked into your future and found there’s nothing there for you but misery.

But life doesn’t need to be lived in regret.

You’ve made up your mind; you’re going to head home and set things right.

Stepping into a shower as warm water falls all around you, your doubts begin to slide away with the soap.

Cleansed, you smile and laugh; everything’s going to be ok. You don’t know it but just behind you a figure is lurking, coming ever closer until they pull the shower curtain back and you scream.

Whether you’ve seen Psycho or not, chances are this iconic scene has popped into your head whilst you’ve been lathering up your hair with shampoo.

This infamous scene painted by the mind of Alfred Hitchcock is more than just a celluloid moment; it’s a part of our cultural DNA.

So the bar for Sacha Gervasi’s Hitchcock was set pretty high, which might explain why his film falls so flat.

Hitchcock is the story behind Psycho, as Alfred dreams up a way to follow his hit film North By Northwest.

Aided by his wife and partner, Alma Reville, the two start piecing together the pieces of what we now know as Psycho.

But even for the acclaimed director, finding financing in Hollywood is more horrifying then any bucket of blood.

Troubled by the studios lack of support, Hitchcock decides to finance Psycho himself and recruits star actresses Janet Leigh and Vera Miles to make his masterpiece.

Yet Alfred’s haunted by his wife’s burgeoning relationship with fledgling writer Whitfield Cook, and as filming for Psycho goes on Alma grows ever more distant her husband.

To make matters worse, Ed Gein the killer upon whom Psycho was based, is taunting Hitchcock in his dreams.

Does Alma support him, is Psycho going to be the masterpiece Hitchcock’s been hunting for, and will the great director be able to resist all those blond bombshells roam his sets?

It’s hard to imagine any movie capturing the elegance and terror Psycho so neatly encapsulated, and Gervasi’s Hitchcock is a muddled film saddled with a less than thrilling plot and some rather directionless sequences.

Perhaps it’s because Hitchcock isn’t quite sure what it wants to be. Is it a biopic, a drama come remake of Psycho or a simple love story?

Some of the major historical myths around Psycho are never really addressed, when jokes come around they fall fantastically flat and the fictional sets of Psycho seem oddly cheap when you remember the original.

And the scenes where Hitchcock is speaking to Ed Gein are masterfully bad.

Still, for all my misgivings, Hitchcock is often sublime. Helen Mirren delivers a performance as Alma that at times captivates, whilst Scarlett Johansson succeeds in making showers scary again with her turn as Janet Leigh.

But it’s Anthony Hopkins as Hitchcock that everyone will remember, though more for the inexpressive prosthetics that renders him a poorly visible simile of the auteur than anything else.

There are moments when Hopkins manages to break through his man in the plastic mask act, especially during one terrifying scene when he’s directing Johansson’s Leigh, but ultimately Hitchcock falls short of the great legacy its subject set out.

Perhaps much of this is down to the fact that we all know how it ends.

Shelton Lindsay

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