Funnily enough, I am not a Hitchcock fan but was looking forward to this film. I slightly enjoyed Rear Window, but was bored by his other movies, especially The Birds. But when I read that Anthony Hopkins, my favorite actor, was going to don a fat suit to play the iconic director, I was sold. Telling the story of how Psycho was made made it sound even better, because that story seemed better than the film itself did. Was Hopkins portrayal and the story itself brought together to make a good movie?
Alfred Hitchcock (Anthony Hopkins) is tired of bigger budgeted films with big stars and has come across a book which he wants to be his next film. Problem is the studios and censors have trouble with the material so Hitchcock and his wife, Alma (Helen Mirren), are forced to finance the film to be able to make the movie Psycho. Hitchcock finds inspiration from the book by imagining himself having conversations with the man who inspired the main character of Norman Bates, Ed Gein (the always awesome Michael Wincott). Throughout filming his wife is uncomfortable with his infatuation with his leading ladies (played by Scarlett Johansson and Jessica Biel) and his frustration with dealing with the censors who need to okay his film before release.
The acting in this film is on par with a well made made for TV movie. That sounds worse than it is but it really did come across that way. For having good leads, some great character actors and overpaid for their “talent” actresses, I was expecting more. Hopkins is fine, but not at his best and Mirren seems to have only one setting for dramas and she continues to use it here. More and more Johansson and Biels show they should not be considered movie stars. Outside of their good looks they have zero acting talent and help bring any movie they are in down in quality. The character actors like Michael Wincott, Richard Portnow and Kurtwood Smith are the ones who brought their A games to the table.
The story is interesting enough but spends too much time on the notion that Hitchcock may have had too much interest in his leading ladies or how his wife may have wanted to have an affair. I wanted more of the film making aspect of the story but they chose to focus on the marriage instead which works against the film because it’s not really all that interesting. They didn’t spend enough time on the interesting side of Hitchcock and that was his process of filmmaking, if they would have focused on that and not on the marriage of the two main characters I think the film would have been better.
Don’t go into this thinking you’re going to see a fictional movie on the making of Psycho which is really secondary to characters relationships which are rather boring as the focus of the movie. When the film does delve into why Hitchcock did this or that for the film, then its grabs your attention again, unfortunately it doesn’t do that often enough.
2 stars out of 4