2 May



Director: Sacha Gervasi

Writers: John J. McLaughlin (screenplay), Stephen Rebello (book)

Stars: Anthony Hopkins, Helen Mirren, Scarlett Johansson

Motion Picture Rating: PG-13

Runtime: 98 minutes



Alfred Hitchcock was a prolific film-maker. He had hit films in the silent, black & white and colour eras. That durability was quite extraordinary, especially for a tubby chap from the east end of London. To get and to stay there he developed a tough exterior and made some enemies. That’s the Hollywood story more or less and this biographic film is set in and around the studios and sets of la-la-land in 1959. That’s the year that Hitchcock put his own money behind Psycho.

The opening of the film is smart. It is clever in a Coen brothers’ way, but then Anthony Hopkins opens his mouth and starts his Hitchcock impression. Pitching the voice somewhere between Tommy Cooper, a Hopkins’ hero, and Michael Caine, the result is distracting. Later on he adds some native Welsh tones and I spent most of the film trying to unpick the jumble. It’s a pity because opposite him Helen Mirren puts in a great performance as Hitch’s long suffering wife Alma Reville. In an average film, she is splendid.

Besides Mirren, there is not a lot to commend here. Hopkins is eager, but not convincing as the larger than life director. We get to see his famous darker side – the insecure, lecherous and domineering Hitchcock – but Hopkins never lets it rip. The overall tone is strangely muted considering how controversial the film Psycho was. That is the other big beast on display here, but perhaps the only insight on the making of the seminal horror film is Alma’s crucial influence on casting and the script.

This is a fairly quick and easy film to watch. The late ‘50’s setting is fun and the supporting cast are solid enough (Johansson, Huston and Collette). Mirren is the best thing in it and yet there is little to challenge hearts or minds in this film which is surprising as Hitch and many of his films were nothing if not provocative.

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