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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.

By: Trevor Johnston


Release details

Rated: 12A
Release date: Friday February 8 2013
Duration: 98 mins

Cast and crew

Director: Sacha Gervasi
Cast: Anthony Hopkins
Helen Mirren
Scarlett Johansson

Average User Rating

2.5 / 5

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Cosy albeit rather tedious little movie which would have been suited better, perhaps, to tv. Hopkins seems to be enjoying himself to the fullest in a turn which had me smiling constantly and Mirren is always lovely to view.

(Sir) Anthony Hopkins is certainly unrecognisable in this rôle, knows it and hams it up for all it is worth in a padded suit, a pleasant enough low budget film with a "made for tv" feel to it. I don't think I learnt very much about Hitch beyond some well trod clichés about Psycho. Johansson is the eye candy so we get to know little to nothing about Leigh (or Hopkins) due to lack of any substance in the script. That said Helen Mirren is fantastic as Alma Reville and steals the film showing just what a leading lady over a certain age can do if you cast them. I wanted to clap when she forceable explains to Hitch the duties of a director's wife, sit through the credits to spot Gervaisi's charming thank-you to Jessica 'Alma' de Rothschild and a final film moment just as the film ends. A sugar coated film to enjoy with your popcorn especially if you recently felt cheated by Quartet