Alfred Hitchcock is one of the greatest auteurs in film history whose impact on the industry can still be seen in today’s modern suspense and thriller genres. His films have garnered much critical acclaim over his career but Psycho quite possibly remains his most famous with audiences. Based on the novel Alfred Hitchcock and the Making of Psycho, Hitchcock documents the life of the famed director as he struggles balancing the production of the film and his relationship with his wife, Alma.
The role of Hitchcock would no doubt leave some big shoes to fill, both literally and figuratively, so it’s no surprise that veteran actor Anthony Hopkins steps into character as the legendary director. One of the best things about Hitchcock is Hopkins’ ability to become him. His look is spot on, and his mannerisms are reminiscent of Alfred Hitchcock Presents. It’s his performance that carries the film and allows audiences to look past the somewhat mediocre story.
While the film takes place during the production of Psycho, the main focus is on the tense relationship between Hitchcock and Alma (Helen Mirren). Making a movie is no doubt an immense task and Hitchcock has all his priorities in one basket, leaving Alma, who is essentially his right hand woman, feeling underappreciated. There’s this constant back-and-forth bickering between the two that grows tiresome by the second act.
Helen Mirren is a fantastic actor but her performance here is bland and uneventful. There’s one standout moment when she takes over production when Hitchcock is sick but aside from that, her character is more of an annoyance than anything else. Rather than the two’s relationship, Hitchcock should have focused more on Psycho itself.
Stepping into the role of Janet Leigh, the star of Psycho, is Scarlett Johansson. Like Hopkins, she fits into the role wonderfully. The dynamic between her and opposing star Vera Miles (Jessica Biel) creates some tension that carries their performances. Just as you would expect from Hitchcock himself, there’s a lot of suspense, not to mention some wonderful references to his work.
While Hitchcock has its ups and downs, the film manages to do most things well and is a fitting homage to the man who defined a genre. For dedicated Hitchcock fans, there’s plenty to take in and appreciate. It’s also interesting to see the backstory behind one of cinema’s biggest films. In the end, there’s just about something for everyone in Hitchcock.