Hitchcock (2012) – 3.5/5

hitch

Decent film with an inappropriately cutesy, wandering first half that fortunately leads to a much more solid, much more serious second half that’s both entertaining and somewhat informative, assuming the basics of the story are all true, that is. The performances are also pretty good, though Anthony Hopkins isn’t quite as good as you’d expect.

He nails the voice and the look of Hitchcock, but there’s something a little too “worked” about the performance that makes it hard to take seriously at times. He’s just not very believable as a person, which I think is more to do with the direction and writing than his acting ability. At the hands of a better writer/director, who knows what could have happened? Helen Mirren gives the best performance though, and Scarlett Johansson, though not great by any means, really surprised me here by also being pretty damn solid. She’s arguably the heart of the film, and, for once, doesn’t completely rely on her looks and overall sex appeal to get her through a role. Shocking.

The story, though, is a bit of a mess: the beginning makes you think it’s going to be this whole big thing about the production of “Psycho” and how Hitchcock had to deal with the many pressures associated with bringing such a graphic story to the big screen given his obsessions and neuroses and all that, but no, not really. Any semblance of an interesting plot is dropped within the first 15 minutes or so in favor of this whole petty **SPOILERS** cheating scenario thing between Hitchcock and his wife**END SPOILERS** that occasionally touches on the production of “Psycho” but for the most part never goes beyond what you’d see in a typical teen romance flick. Come on, people, this is Alfred Hitchcock for crying out loud, making what would eventually become one of the most successful horror films of all time! Why squander the opportunity by focusing on trivial romantic crap we’ve seen millions of times before?

The tone is also all over the place at times, with some scenes being really light and goofy, and others, especially those in the second half, taking on this dark, almost sinister quality that is never really earned. And the scenes where Hitchcock **SPOILERS** hallucinates talking to the real killer that inspired the Norman Bates character were completely unnecessary, especially given the relatively benign nature of Hitchcock’s problems compared to those of the killer’s. **END SPOILERS** It felt like the film was trying to compare the two at times, or was trying to show Hitchcock trying to relate to the killer somehow, or something. It was just a huge mess. Interesting idea, and well shot and acted, but totally inappropriate.

There’s also  a humorous element to the dialogue at times that felt very written; sometimes it’s effective, but sometimes it’s just off-putting, especially in the first act. Luckily things get better and much more charming/humorous in the last 30 minutes or so when all the stupid relationship troubles are resolved and the production of “Psycho” once again becomes the main focus, but the the movie ends soon afterward and that’s that. The cinematography too is a bit off; everything is too sharp, too clean, the colors a little too bright. Just all sorts of weird, weird decisions.

Overall, yeah, not a terrible movie despite my many complaints. It has its moments here and there, it’s decently acted, and the second half is actually pretty damn entertaining. It’s not the best film they could have made on Hitchcock’s experience working on “Psycho,” sure, but it’s not a complete disaster either. You learn a little about the director and his craft at least, and how his wife may have had more to do with his success than we’ve been led to believe, assuming it’s all true, that is. So, an okay film, sure.

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