“Hitchcock” (2012) Dir. Sacha Gervasi
Why does an artist risk his reputation, career, money, and even his marriage? What drives him to work on a picture that is driving him almost to madness? What tells him to keep going against all odds – his genius or a mere hunch? The movie answers all questions with one word: Hitch.
We meet Hitchcock (Anthony Hopkins) at the dawn of his obsession with Psycho. He has already been established as a genius filmmaker. There is nothing else to prove for him, except that he can turn a grizzly multiple murder story into art. He is obsessed with his leading lady (or rather ladies), the Hitchcock blond. He is obsessed with Ed, the prototype for Normal Bates. He is obsessed with his wife Alma Reville (Helen Mirren) having an affair with a writer friend. The common denominator for all these obsessions is him, but it ends there. We witness his hallucinations and dreams, day dreams, his sneak peeking at knockout blonds in the street, his bouts of anger, but we are never given any explanation, the origin of these.
The movie is set in a fantasy. The real world is outside the door, unwelcome here. All sets, designs, even colors and sounds are fantasy-like. They’re colorful, symmetrical, orderly. Every object is under control and in its rightful place, which sounds ironic in a movie about madness. The fantasy includes the Ed sequences: not enough filth and disgust to make us believe it’s real.
The actors and actresses are amazing. They get into their roles with perfect attention to detail. They are plausible to be the characters they play. However, they don’t play the filmmakers from the 50s. They play the characters from Hitchcock movie. Scarlett Johansson is a charming Marion Crane, not Janet Leigh. The same goes for James D’Arcy, who transforms into and becomes Norman Bates; Anthony Perkins is redundant. As for Anthony Hopkins he plays the Hitchcock we know and expect, the stereotype and caricature of Hitchcock. And he does that beautifully. Along with Helen Mirren, they squeeze as much out of their roles as they can. It’s a pleasure to look at them because they compose a nicely-looking picture, or rather, to put it in Hitchcock’s own word, they look presentable.
Finally, there come questions. Why is Hitchcock hallucinating? Only because he read a book with more dead bodies than pages? Why is Ed visiting him in his dreams? Only because he saw the photos of Ed’s victims? Why is he secretly peeking at his actresses? Only because one of his leading ladies chose family over working with him? These explanations barely scratch the surface. They suffice for an average viewer who does not have and want any deeper knowledge of Hitchcock. And that is the movie’s weakness. A filmmaker or a film expert will not find much pleasure here.
Long days, pleasant nights,