Anthony Hopkins dons a new face for the first time since his Hannibal Lecter days in Hitchcock, where the acclaimed actor plays the acclaimed filmmaker as he makes the acclaimed classic Psycho, in which Norman Bates goes batshit crazy after certain people use the word "acclaimed" too much in a single sentence. Unfortunately, "acclaimed" cannot be ascribed to Hitchcock, which is a rather ordinary affair.
Hopkins turns in a good caricature performance, his identity completely obscured by prosthetics, makeup and an alteration to his voice. He carries the film well enough and embodies Alfred Hitchcock to the same degree, but it's hardly Hopkins' best role.
That's because the movie itself offers little to latch onto.
Hitchcock is moderately entertaining as it focuses on the filmmaker's motivations and desires surrounding the creation of his controversial classic, but it lacks identity - somewhat ironic given the subject matter. The movie has a lighthearted tone - it begins with serial killer Ed Gein murdering his brother in a humorous way - but not a comedic one, leaving the story and its characters to flounder in edgeless drama. By using bright colors and refusing to give his actors - Scarlett Johansson, Danny Huston, Toni Collette, Jessica Biel and James D'Arcy among them - much to bite into, director Sacha Gervasi handicaps his film out of the gate.
Hitchcock needed an identity, a unique one. Had Gervasi shot it like a Hitchcock film - with strong angles, a piercing score and a tendency toward suspense - he might have had something. Or, had he committed to a genre - say, as a comedy, where the characters are exaggerations of themselves, or as a drama, where the story dives deeper into Hitchcock's obsession with perfection and his alleged affinity for his lovely leading ladies - the movie would have had a better chance.
As is, it's entertaining but unremarkable, normal when it should be anything but. Gervasi attempts to be unique by diving into Hitchcock's mind with flashbacks to Ed Gein's murders, but these moments are the least effective parts of the movie.
The film's saving grace is Helen Mirren, who plays Hitchcock's wife and collaborator. Mirren is terrific and grounds the film. The casting of James D'Arcy as Anthony Perkins was also superb.
Hitchcock is not a bad movie, but it is about one of the greatest filmmakers of our time... So why does the film feel so normal?
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.
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