‘Hitchcock’: An enjoyable but tame attempt at the making of a cinematic classic

Watching a biopic of your favorite artist / person can be a very unsettling experience. The uneasiness hits another level when you know that you will be watching a biopic on one of the most revered artist of all time.

The behind-the- scenes drama behind the making of his landmark picture Psycho has always been an interesting Hollywood story. And it is only this aspect of the story that entertains. The curiosity factor about the making of the legendary horror film, entertains more than the life story of it’s legendary director.

The film focuses on a small portion of Hitchcock’s life. In 1959,fresh off the success of his critically acclaimed espionage thriller, North by Northwest, the director has selected his next film property to be Robert Block’s Psycho, amid objections by the studio heads about of the grim nature of the novel. The logistical problems in the making of this masterwork, the first ground-breaking “slasher” film in cinematic history, become the famed director’s latest obsession (beside beautiful blonde actresses) and the central plot in Hitchcock.

Be warned; do not be fooled by the plot written above, for the film chooses to focus on Alfred Hitchcock’s personal life and his relationship with his wife, Alma during the making of the film. Questions like “What lies beneath that droll stare?” or “Behind that iconic silhouette?” go frustratingly unanswered. The film pursues this idea that Alfred and Alma’s marriage was a strained one, and that it took collaborating on Psycho to essentially renew their vows. Gervasi and McLaughlin seemingly fabricate a flimsy, rather boring romance between Alma and fellow screenwriter Whitfield Cook (Danny Huston).

As for the performances, Anthony Hopkins stars at Hitch, and he does a spot-on impersonation of the filmmaker, capturing nicely that cold, dead-eyed demeanor that served as a delicious counterpoint to his stinging wit. At the same time, though, the extensive makeup it takes to transform him physically is more distracting than convincing. Mirren delivers a striking portrayal, but is actually miscast as the diminutive, mousey Alma.

The supporting cast is delightful in their impersonations of the Hitchcock’s colleagues and celebrities during that era. Scarlett Johansson plays Janet Leigh and Jessica Biel is Vera Miles. Both actresses fill out their roles well and succeed nicely as Hitchcock’s leading ladies. Also on hand are Michael Stuhlbarg as Hitchcock’s agent Lew Wasserman, Danny Huston as screenwriter Whitfield Cook, and Wincott, all are in fine form.

Hitchcock isn’t a bad film; it’s just very bland and doesn’t offer anything interesting. I don’t like Hitchcock being mediocre as much as the other guy. As it stands Hitchcock is way too simple and lacks anything substantially interesting to offer to the biopic table. It’s acceptable and that’s the real problem. A film about Alfred Hitchcock shouldn’t be just acceptable, it must be exceptional.

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