Movies about the makings of other movies seem to be a growing trend. Among these is Hitchcock, a story behind the master of suspense’s struggles while making his (in my humble opinion) greatest film. In addition to the usual conflicts with studios and Hitch’s (Anthony Hopkins) odd obsession with his actors, a growing conflict with his wife and creative partner in film making, Alma Reville (Helen Mirren), takes center stage and makes Alma Hitch’s most intriguing leading lady.
For a film fan, some of the best scenes depict the production of Psycho. We see classic scenes come to life at a new angle and in color, with Hitch just off to the side observing quietly or shouting directions like a man obsessed. Either response seems to hold the same intensity. His direction of the infamous shower scene is especially fascinating and intense. And there are some fun Hitchcockian moments, like the beginning and end monologue that mimics episodes of Alfred Hitchcock presents.
However, overshadowing Hitch and all his eccentricities is his real leading lady, Alma. She is a supportive and ambitious woman who has been at Hitch’s side through his entire film career. When Hitch is ill, she fills in for him on the set of Psycho and keeps production on track. But she also has her own projects in the film industry, and writes a screenplay with Whitfield Cook (Danny Huston). The secluded beach house they write at makes Hitch suspicious of an affair and the idea does not seem to be vacant from Alma’s mind either. Thing is, with Alma always seeing Hitch spellbound by his leading ladies, we can’t blame her too much for her own temptations.
At the Oscars, Hitchcock only received one nomination and came home with no statuettes. It was was for for makeup and hairstyling, I assume for making Anthony Hopkins look like Hitch in such an uncanny way. There were moments where Hopkins seemed to have melted away entirely into Hitchcock. Amazing! However, at the Golden Globes, Helen Mirren was nominated for her leading performance as Alma. A deserved nomination, shedding such brilliant light on an important, but often overlooked part of Hitchcock’s life. How unfortunate that she did not make it to the Oscars.
While I personally love the idea of this film and quite enjoyed it, I feel like it fell short and a bit flat. It felt as though Hitch and Alma were not balanced, both onscreen and in the story. The moments in Hitch’s mind, trying to connect with his latest villain, felt out of place, though they had the best of intentions. Though Hitchcock was not much of an Oscar worthy film, it’s an enjoyable and fun watch, especially for any Hitchcock fan.
“You may call me Hitch. Hold the Cock.”