Feb 5 2013 by Ian Bunting, Airdrie & Coatbridge Advertiser
In 1960 legendary film director Alfred Hitchcock scared audiences silly with Psycho, one of my favourite movies of all time.
Hitchcock is the story of the making of that seminal piece of cinema, starring Anthony Hopkins as the great man and Helen Mirren as his wife and collaborator Alma Reville.
London-born director Sacha Gervasi helms only his second picture after documentary Anvil: The Story of Anvil and presents a bright and breezy take on the ‘Master of Suspense’.
John J. McLaughlin (Black Swan) penned the screenplay from Stephen Rebello’s book Alfred Hitchcock and the Making of Psycho.
The story offers a fascinating peek behind the shower curtain of an all-time classic with a love story at its core.
The former is covered by scenes showing Hitchcock’s battle with prudish censors and the editing and marketing of Psycho, culminating in a wonderful moment where “Hitch” conducts an audience’s screams from outside the cinema screen during the infamous shower scene.
And the love story? Proving that experience is often the best way to go, Hopkins and Mirren are pure dynamite together.
Sweet without being sugary, their beautifully played relationship shows that despite their troubles, a fierce loyalty kept them going.
There’s a delightful devilishness touch of dark humour too when Alma responds to Hitchcock’s view that he should kill off his leading lady in Psycho half-way through the picture by saying “you should kill her off in the first 30 minutes”.
Hitchcock was always going to live or have a knife plunged into it by its leading man and Gervasi chose very wisely.
Hopkins just about nails it, aided by quality prosthetics and make-up.
He’s humorous, determined and more than a little unhinged, passing photos of severed body parts around members of the press to publicise Psycho.
His notorious voyeurism is touched upon as he peeks through blinds, peep holes and into reflections on mirrors.
There are also hints of Hitchcock’s troubled relationships with his leading ladies as Scarlett Johansson’s Janet Leigh becomes his new toy while Jessica Biel’s spurned Vera Miles is kicked to the kerb.
Both young actresses impress in small roles but you’re left wanting more from this plot strand.
The biggest flaw is the completely unnecessary use of Michael Wincott’s Ed Gein, the serial killer whose story acted as inspiration for Psycho, as a visual device – having Hitchcock on Gein’s psychiatrist couch is pretty crass and should’ve ended up on the cutting room floor.
Like its subject matter, Hitchcock is not without its flaws but soars to lofty heights any time Hopkins and Mirren share the screen.
Their suitably old-school chemistry warms the heart so much you may need to take a shower after watching them – just make sure you lock the door before you go in!