MOVIE: *** (out of 5)
BLU-RAY EXPERIENCE: ***1/2 (out of 5)
Anthony Hopkins as ALFRED HITCHCOCK
Helen Mirren as ALMA REVILLE
Scarlett Johansson as JANET LEIGH
Danny Huston as WHITFIELD COOK
Toni Collette as PEGGY ROBERTSON
Jessica Biel as VERA MILES
Studio: Fox Searchlight
Directed by: Sacha Gervasi
BY KEVIN CARR
Like any lover of cinema, I appreciate the work of Alfred Hitchcock. However, as a lover of horror cinema, I have an even greater appreciation for what he managed to do with “Psycho.” That’s not to say one should focus exclusively on this film, even if it is his most famous and recognizable piece. After all, the man had quite a career behind him before making “Psycho,” and the film “Hitchcock” does a good job demonstrating this.
“Hitchcock” hit theaters at a time of uncertainty, last fall when it wasn’t quite clear which films and performances were going to rise to the top of awards season. On the surface, it seemed that star Anthony Hopkins was angling for another Oscar in the title role. Ironically enough, it was Helen Mirren as the lesser appreciated collaborator and wife Alma Reville that got most of the buzz.
This was the risk, of course, that Hopkins took, considering a role like this it hard to balance between reality and caricature. Had “Hitchcock” not been a perfectly entertaining movie on its own right, I would have dismissed it as a cheap grab at awards.
It’s not, really. It’s better than that. Even if not all critics agree with me on this.
“Hitchcock” is no more a biography of the legendary director than “Lincoln” was a biography of a President. Instead, “Hitchcock” tells the story behind the making of “Psycho,” which rebooted his career and has the juiciest tidbits.
Hollywood loves movies about itself, and “Hitchcock” threatens to go down this road quite a few times. However, there’s enough neat gossip throughout to raise the film above naval gazing for the industry.
It doesn’t always have as much focus as it should, sometimes swerving into Alma’s life too much (because as good of a job as Mirren does in the role, it’s not really her movie). Also, director Sacha Gervasi sticks with some surreal choices in which Hitchcock interacts with the ghost of Ed Gein, and this took me too much out of the film at times.
Still, “Hitchcock” is a neat film. It’s brisk and informational, and the actors that populate the picture almost all do a brilliant job.
The Blu-ray includes a nice selection of bonus material, which I wasn’t quite expecting. There’s all the standard elements that show a solid bonus menu, including a deleted scene and an audio commentary. The rest of the menu is rounded out with featurettes, each with an appropriate running time that are more than the usual fluff.
Featurettes include “Obsessed with Hitchcock,’ “Becoming the Master: From Hopkins to Hitchcock,” “The Story,” “The Cast,” “Danny Elfman: Maestro,” “Hitch and Alma” and “Remembering Hitchcock.” There’s also a clever PSA about cell phone use in a theater starring Hopkins as Hitchcock. And speaking of cell phones, there’s about 20 minutes of director Gervasi’s behind-the-scenes footage he shot on his phone. This is herky-jerky and at times hard to watch, but it gives a nice fly-on-the-wall perspective of the production.