December 31, 2012

MOVIES: Hitchcock (Sacha Gervasi, 2012)

It's the year of the Hitchcock biopic, with this following close on the heels of HBO's The Girl. This movie has, at least potentially, a more interesting story than HBO's "pervy old guy harasses pretty young actress," but doesn't do enough with it.

The bulk of Hitchcock focuses on Hitchcock's effort to make Psycho despite the studio's reluctance, and that part of the story is the strongest. Scarlett Johansson makes a reasonably convincing Janet Leigh, and Jessica Biel has a few nice moments as Vera Miles, warning Leigh about Hitchcock's tendency to get obsessive about his leading ladies.

But Anthony Hopkins is never a very convincing Hitchcock; strictly in terms of the impersonation, Toby Jones did a better job in The Girl. And the movie wastes a lot of time on silly subplots like the relationship between Hitchcock's wife, Alma (Helen Mirren), and a writer friend (Danny Huston) with whom she's collaborating; neither Mirren nor Huston gives us an interesting enough character to care about, so we don't much care about Hitchcock's suspicion that they're having an affair.. Even worse are the scenes in which Hitchcock has imaginary conversation with Ed Gein (Michael Wincott), the man on whom Psycho is loosely based.

It's a perfectly competent movie, and it's never painfully unpleasant to watch, but it's a bit superficial, and never digs deep enough into its characters to be compelling watching.

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