If you love movies and the filmmaking process, “Hitchcock” is a must-see. It tells the story behind the making of “Psycho” and while doing so, exposes the turbulent and loving relationship between Alfred Hitchcock and his wife, Alma.
Hitch (Anthony Hopkins) has just finished the highly-successful “North by Northwest,” and is in a quandary as to what his next project will be. He becomes obsessed with a book about necrophiliac serial killer Ed Gein, “the boy who dug up his own mother.” But it’s a hard sell to Paramount Studios who refused to finance such a gruesome endeavor. Hitch is so committed to “the nasty little piece of work” that he personally puts up the funds.
In an ingenious move, he has his staff buy all copies of the book, “Psycho” (by Robert Bloch). Hitch even goes as far as demanding that everyone involved in the film take an oath of secrecy. In the shadows, Alma (Helen Mirren), as always, is an integral part of the production. She edits, scripts, casts and, at times, even directs. In the past she never received any credit from Hitch. But after she delivers a lengthy (and luscious) tongue-lashing to him, he finally acknowledges her efforts publicly.
As one might expect from Oscar winners Hopkins (“The Silence of the Lambs”) and Mirren (“The Queen”), their work in “Hitchcock” is stellar. They share well-scripted (John J. McLaughlin) witty repartee, some of which is laugh out loud. Sometimes, it felt as though their respect and love for one another on screen wasn’t merely acting.
Also, the casting of James D’arcy as Anthony Perkins is a stroke of genius. He nails Perkins, especially in a comment made while being interviewed by Hitch for the role of Norman Bates. When Hitch asks him why he sees a psychiatrist so frequently, his response is, “Sex, rage, my mother, the usual.
“Sacha Gervasi (“Anvil: The Story of Anvil”) does an outstanding job directing “Hitchcock.” His attention to detail is pervasive. The sets, the costumes and make-up are so indicative of the era; the audience is transported back to ’60s Hollywood in impeccable style. The original score from the film, “Psycho,” intensifies the viewing experience, almost requiring having seen the film a prerequisite.
At the conclusion of “Hitchcock” we see Hitch revel in his finished product. During the premiere, he stands near the closed theater door as the audience watches the infamous “shower scene.” Hitch orchestrates the screams by moving his arms like a conductor in unison. It’s divine to behold.