A working mother puts herself through law school in an effort to represent her brother, who has been wrongfully convicted of murder and has exhausted his chances to appeal his conviction through public defenders.
Thomas D. Mahard
In 1959, Alfred Hitchcock and his wife, Alma, are at the top of their creative game as filmmakers amid disquieting insinuations about it being time to retire. To recapture his youth's artistic daring, Alfred decides his next film will adapt the lurid horror novel, Psycho, over everyone's misgivings. Unfortunately, as Alfred self-finances and labors on this film, Alma finally loses patience with his roving eye and controlling habits with his actresses. When an ambitious friend lures her to collaborate on a work of their own, the resulting marital tension colors Alfred's work even as the novel's inspiration haunts his dreams. Written by
Kenneth Chisholm (firstname.lastname@example.org)
If you're going to do a biopic, do it out of love for the subject, not yourself. If this was meant to pay homage to the Master of Suspense, a documentary would have been better than a selfish, rather dubious portrayal. It isn't a portrayal; it's a parody.
Anthony Hopkins, usually a great actor, focuses so much on perfecting Hitchcock's distinctive voice and mannerisms that it kills the artifice. Hopkins looks like he gained weight for the role, but I never once thought I was watching Hitch. I was always conscious of Hopkins playing Hitch playing him rather badly.
Hitch's wit is compromised because Hopkins delivers his lines very theatrically. Hitch never uttered his witty quotes quite as emphatically; he did so matter-of-factly and it was up to you to detect the wit.
The film has the same central pitfall as Spielberg's Lincoln: the plot is too thin. Here the entire film is about Hitch's battle to get his most famous and most successful film, Psycho, made (resistance from Paramount forced him to finance it himself).
Toni Collette adds nothing in her unrewarding role as Hitch's secretary. Then again, neither does Michael Wincott as Ed Gein's phantom, meant to represent Hitch's inner voice.
The biggest insult to Hitch's memory is that the film doesn't even agree that he was a genius. It implies all the way through that his tolerant and assertive wife, Alma Reville (Helen Mirren), was the true genius. It says she did the directing both of Hitch's films and of Hitch - while Hitch succumbed to alcoholism and comfort eating. The film becomes a story of the great man in front of the even greater woman.
As much as I enjoy watching Mirren, I am noticing a decline in her standards. Maybe she knows she has nothing left to prove. I get the impression when watching her on TV interviews with much younger guests that she's in denial about her age. In a scene she shares with Scarlett Johannson, who is delightful as Janet Leigh, Mirren is supposed to act jealously as Hitch fawns over her. Her envy is so credible that you realise she might not be acting in that moment.
This is a tawdry and cynical reminiscence of Hitch's insecurity about becoming a fading star, despite dazzling audiences with a string of classics, including North by Northwest, Vertigo and Rear Window. Hitch felt enormous resentment for not ever winning a competitive Oscar and being recognised for his genius; why wasn't this story shown? Why is he being denied his due credit even in death?
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