Dir: Sacha Gervasi, 2013
Alfred Hitchcock, yearning for his next project, discovers the Ed Gein-inspired novel Psycho and irrevocably falls in love with it. So determined to make the feature that he mortgages his house, Hitch must also deal with petulant studio heads, scissor-happy censors, apparitions of the murderer whom the book is based on and most devastatingly, his crumbling relationship with his wife Alma.
Many of the most creative directors have had their muses to cite for inspiration. Quentin Tarantino had Uma Thurman, Tim Burton has Helena Bonham Carter (or is it Johnny Depp?), Woody Allen had Diane Keaton/Mia Farrow/Scarlett Johansson, etc. It’s fair to say that Alma Reville gifted her husband with some truly exceptional ideas but with Sacha Gervasi’s painting of behind the set of Psycho, Gervasi portrays one of the Master of Suspense as a bumbling fool who spends all his time encouraging his paranoia over his marriage rather than manufacturing countless fabulous features that are considered classics.
It’s this portrayal, worked with inane levels of melodrama (and a gross abundance of makeup) from Anthony Hopkins, which skewers the balance of the film. Hitchcock is not a biopic, a clue given to us by Stephen Rebello’s source material, Alfred Hitchcock and the Making of Psycho. So if this is indeed the telling of the twelve months surrounding Psycho’s pre-production, production and release, why is there such minimal amounts involving the legendary film? Why does Gervasi delve into the relationship between Alma and Whitfield Cook, played by Danny Huston or display scenes where Ed Gein appears to Hitch in Shakespearean fashion?
If Hitchcock succeeds in one thing, it is of portraying the man as a perverted, maladjusted oddball rather than the genius filmmaker we all know. But as was with HBO’s The Girl, which deconstructed Hitchcock’s persona and all sexual obsessions that went with it, Gervasi’s film seems to justify the man’s actions via his successful career, making this vision of Hitchcock all the more of an abomination.
Gervasi does succeed in nailing some of Hitchcock’s quirks and mannerisms. Hitch’s grim sense of humour and his breaking the fourth wall adds some much-needed refreshment to the film. Unfortunately, in overall Hitchcock is blasé, drab and meandering in its form as though the screenwriters used equal measures of the Psycho IMDb trivia page and tabloid newspapers as a checklist for the film’s components. “Call me Hitch,” the eponymous character says. “Hold the cock.” Reverse that and you’ve got a fitting title.
★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆