By Forrest Hartman
Rated PG-13 for some violent images, sexual content and thematic material
20th Century Fox
Available on: Blu-ray/DVD combo pack and on demand
Most classic movie lovers have a place in their hearts for Alfred Hitchcock, the director who earned the title Master of Suspense by producing a multitude of well-known thrillers. His list of film classics includes “The Birds,” “Vertigo,” “North by Northwest” and “Rear Window,” but he is probably best known for the 1960 serial killer film “Psycho.”
That movie features one of the most memorable murder sequences in film history, and it changed the way horror films were made. “Hitchcock” is a clever biopic that tells the story of “Psycho” while speculating about the director’s personal life, particularly his relationship with his wife, Alma Reville (Helen Mirren).
Screenwriter John J. McLaughlin and director Sacha Gervasi depict Hitchcock, portrayed by Anthony Hopkins, as an aging giant who refuses to believe that his best days are behind him. In an effort to prove that he is still able to shake the foundations of cinema, Hitchcock refuses to tackle the standard projects that Hollywood throws his way in favor of a graphic adaptation of a horror novel.
Despite Hitchcock’s stature in the film industry, the controversial project forces him to finance the feature on his own, putting he and his wife at financial risk. Although “Hitchcock” is ostensibly about “Psycho,” Gervasi spends a great deal of time with Hitchcock and Reville, making the film as much a love story as anything.
It would be difficult to make a movie about such an iconic director without a great actor in the lead role, and Hopkins was the perfect choice. He does a fine job with Hitchcock’s voice and mannerisms, and he even looks a good deal like the director. Mirren was an equally fine choice for Reville, and the scenes where she and Hopkins play across from one another are terrific. The film also benefits from appearances by Scarlett Johansson and Jessica Biel as starlets Janet Leigh and Vera Miles respectively.
Biopics require creative license to succeed, and Gervasi takes liberties with his storytelling, but that’s not really a flaw because he also renews interest in Hitchcock’s life and cinematic legacy.
Blu-ray extras include a deleted scene, several behind-the-scenes features and a filmmaker’s audio commentary.