Hard on the heels of Toby Jones’s impersonation of Alfred Hitchcock in BBC film The Girl, Anthony Hopkins offers us an alternative screen version of cinema’s Master of Suspense in director Sacha Gervasi’s Hitchcock.
Where The Girl explored Hitchcock’s supposedly perverse side through his exploitative relationship with Tippi Hedren, star of The Birds and Marnie, Gervasi’s more flattering film scrutinises Hitch’s companionate marriage to Alma Reville, played by a Bafta-nominated Helen Mirren.
And it’s Alma, Hitchcock’s collaborator since his early silent days, whose support proves essential when he takes on Robert Bloch’s lurid novel ‘Psycho’ as his follow-up to box-office hit North by Northwest. It’s shocking stuff and film studio Paramount immediately takes fright, leaving Hitchcock to mortgage the family home and bankroll the project himself…
With Hitchcock, Gervasi, maker of beguiling rock documentary Anvil, has come up with a breezy entertainment rather than an in-depth biopic. You won’t find any real insights into Hitchcock’s filmmaking process or his psyche, despite a walk-on part in his imagination for serial killer Ed Gein, Psycho’s real-life inspiration.
Scarlett Johansson’s Janet Leigh and Jessica Biel’s Vera Miles don’t particularly resemble their real-life counterparts, but James D’Arcy’s Anthony Perkins is spot on. None of them, however, get very much to do.
But the banter going back and forth between Hopkins’ Hitchcock and Mirren’s Alma is fun enough, although Mirren is far too glamorous for Alma (Imelda Staunton was a much better fit in The Girl) and Hopkins’ accent has a tendency to wobble, and at times sounds more like Hitchcock’s fellow Cockney Michael Caine than the director.
In cinemas from Friday 8th February.
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