Hitchcock - DVD Review
Review by Rob Carnevale
SOMEHERE within the multiple elements that make up Hitchcock there’s a great little movie about the making of Psycho. Sadly, this isn’t it.
That’s not to say that Sacha Gervasi’s movie doesn’t possess curiosity value; more that it’s a patchwork quilt of events that needed more of Hitchcock’s own sharpness behind the lens.
At its heart, the film offers a fascinating chronicle of how Psycho only just made it to the screen in the face of studio scepticism and censorship wrangling, while simultaneously offering insight into Hitchcock’s relationships with his wife, Alma Reville, and borderline obsessive pursuit of his leading ladies (in this case, both Janet Leigh and Vera Miles).
Anthony Hopkins plays the iconic director, Helen Mirren his wife and Scarlett Johansson and Jessica Biel his starlets.
But as good as some performances are, they also suffer from the film’s uneven direction, a lot of which stems from some of the curious creative decisions that Gervasi makes along the way.
Scenes involving Hitchcock’s imagined conversations with the serial killer Ed Gein (the inspiration for Norman Bates) are particularly distracting and unnecessary, while leaving a somewhat unpleasant taste given the unsuccessful attempts to couch them in humour.
It also detracts from Hopkins’ performance as he often can’t seem to resist the temptation to delve into his own famous back catalogue, bringing some unwanted nods towards Hannibal Lecter into his portrayal.
Such moments also come at the expense of Johansson and Biel, both of whose relationships with their eccentric director feel under-developed.
Nevertheless, behind-the-scenes insights into the actual shooting of Psycho are fun (James D’Arcy does a great Anthony Perkins, albeit under-used again), as are the wrangles with both the studio and censor.
And better still is Mirren, whose portrayal of Hitchcock’s long-suffering wife lends the film its true heart and soul. Her scenes with Hopkins are great, while she wears her quiet anguish over her husband’s shortcomings with tremendous grace. Hers is the film’s performance to savour and, arguably, it’s biggest reason for seeing it.
Running time: 98mins
UK Release Blu-ray & DVD Release: June 17, 2013