There are certain truisms that you hold on to in this world of vague uncertainty. The sun will rise. The world will spin. Anthony Hopkins will not suck no matter how bad the movie he may find himself in does. Or at least he did…
I’m not entirely sure what Hitchcock is supposed to be. It’s not a biopic. The only insights we get into the great director are when he pisses someone off and they scream that he’s always doing this or always doing that. Jessica Biel plays an actress whose career he supposedly ruined, but it’s tossed out in such a way that makes it totally irrelevant. Everything, about the movie seems irrelevant. The pitch is, I suppose, that Hitchcock was backed up by his wife Alma and he was really only as good as they were together. The crucible for their marital crisis is the director’s controversial and scandalous (at the time) making of Psycho…..but the movie spends very little time on the making of it at all. If you haven’t seen Psycho, you’d have no idea what they were even referencing most of the time.
What does the film spend its focus? Well, there’s a lot of Anthony Hopkins parading around in the Hitchcock makeup being episodically quirky/pervy. The makeup is not good. It’s bad. It’s Anthony Hopkins in a fat suit. It looks nothing like Hitchcock and Hopkins gives the first bad performance I’ve ever seen. He brings nothing to the character and seems partially asleep most of the movie. Helen Mirren is stellar as always, playing Hitchcock’s wife. Scarlett Johanssen does a good job as Janet Leigh, though she’s only in about ten minutes of the film. The rest of the cast is as forgettable as the movie.
Bookending the film are two instances of Hitchcock directly addressing the audience as he did in his Alfred Hitchcock Presents TV show. So that framing device frames the making of Psycho which is seen through the lens of Hitchcock’s marriage. It’s bizarrely scattered, unfocused and-ultimately-unentertaining. Go rent Psycho. Read a book on Hitchcock if you want to learn something about him, because you won’t glean anything from this.