July 30, 2014

Film Review: Hitchcock Channels the Master

 

PHOTO BY SUZANNE TENNER

Film Review: <i>Hitchcock</i> Channels the Master

Helen Mirren as Alma Reville and Anthony Hopkins as Alfred Hitchcock in Hitchcock



Hitchcock stands on its own without being crushed by its own weight.

For a film that’s a movie within a movie about the guy behind the guy, Hitchcock scores on every level without being convoluted.

Director Sacha Gervasi effectively deconstructs Alfred Hitchcock while showing the inauspicious genesis of what (arguably) became the director’s best work, Psycho.

Despite Hitchcock being known as the master of suspense as well as a royal pain in the ass, what we get is a love story about a man who loves cinema and more importantly, his wife.

Adding humanity to the iconic auteur is the director’s secret weapon.

Gervasi’s journalist ethos for producing raw and authentic work leaves the audience riveted proving that adage of life being art more than apt.

Shining a light on Hitchcock’s need to branch out as an artist, we see someone willing to suffer for his art. Gervasi crystallizes the moment when the man became the myth superbly.

John McLaughlin’s screenplay certainly helps, as he is able to balance all the weighty concepts with an undercurrent of wit and fourth-wall-breaking that makes the audience a part of the film rather than just a viewer.

Much like Denzel Washington, fans seem to take Anthony Hopkins’ consistently great work for granted. Also like Washington, we should see Hopkins making the rounds come award season.

Despite being buried under mounds of prosthetics and makeup, the actor doesn’t play Hitchcock as much as he is Hitchcock.

Yes, the accent is on point and his timing is impeccable. What really sells the performance is the sense of fragility we get from a man known for being more iconoclast than human.

That said, Helen Mirren matches Hopkins punch for punch. Playing Alma Reville, Hitchcock’s wife and longtime collaborator, the actress showcases a powerful woman who is every inch the auteur her husband is.

Her nomination is in the bag as well. Scarlett Johansson and Jessica Biel fill ably as Hitchcock blondes, Janet Leigh and Vera Miles.

­­The duo play well off each other as you see one (Miles) leave the director’s grace while another (Leigh) becomes his latest fascination.

Playing in limited release (much like its inspiration) Hitchcock is smart, funny and an example of what more bio films should be.