Time Out rating:
Time Out says
Tue Feb 5
He was the world’s most famous film director, yet Alfred Hitchcock gambled his reputation on a horror pic deemed so toxic by Hollywood that he had to bankroll it himself. ‘Psycho’ was the epoch-changing result, and this fact-based drama zooms in on its making, examining Hitchcock the artist and man when the pressure was on. On the making-of details, it’s breezily entertaining (notwithstanding the absence of any real ‘Psycho’ footage) as Anthony Hopkins’s Master of Suspense battles to preserve his vision. However, when Sacha Gervasi’s follow-up to his splendid music doc ‘Anvil’ ponders just what this shocking tale of voyeurism says about Hitchcock’s own psyche, it has less to say.
Fantasy sequences where Hitch confers with notorious serial killer Ed Gein – inspiration for the original novel – prove little more than a cheeky gimmick, and while this portrait goes easier on Hitchcock’s sexual manipulation of his leading ladies than the BBC’s recent ‘The Girl’, the insights are as familiar as they are superficial. That’s partly due to an overloaded story, which skimps on Scarlett Johansson’s perky, businesslike Janet Leigh, majoring instead on speculative asides tracking Hitch’s spouse and creative confidante Alma Reville (Helen Mirren, regally spiky) as she dares to work and flirt with another writer.
Still, Mirren and Hopkins excel in each other’s company, neediness and jealousy glinting in their sly, affectionate banter of married routine. Also, the dialogue is almost zippy enough to convince us they’re in a better movie than the scatty, intriguing but slightly undercooked one we’re actually watching.
Author: Trevor Johnston
Cast and crew
Anthony Hopkins, Helen Mirren, Scarlett Johansson