If you love classic cinema, I'm happy to report that you'll enjoy Hitchcock. If you're a devotee of Alfred Hitchcock, you'll no doubt love Anthony Hopkins starring as the master of suspense. And if you're particularly a fan of Psycho--a film that made people afraid of taking showers--you may be giddy enough to watch the film in a bath-towel.
This terrifically mischievous film blends a macabre sensibility with pop culture history. Most importantly, the film never fails to entertain, right from its opening moments when Hopkins--tucked deep beneath pounds of makeup and padding--squints into the lens and groans out a Hitchcockian, "Good eeee-ven-ing."
Hopkins' Hitchock appears on screen scant seconds after 1950s serial killer Ed Gein busts the business end of a shovel against the back of someone's head. Gein's body-snatching and murderous exploits were the foundation of Robert Bloch's 1959 novel Psycho.
It should not go unnoticed that Gein was also the inspiration for fictional serial killer Buffalo Bill in The Silence of the Lambs, the 1991 film in which Hopkins chewed a fair amount of scenery (and human flesh) on his way to an Oscar.
In Hitchcock, Hopkins meets his perfect foil in another Oscar winner, Helen Mirren--portraying Alma, Hitchock's wife and creative equal. We learn that Alma played a critical role in Psycho's success: pinpoint casting, ground-breaking editing techniques and the use of Bernard Herrmann's musical score of screeching violins for the shower scene.
The film includes other juicy bits, including Hitchock's directive to his staff to buy every available copy of Psycho the novel, so that audiences wouldn't know the surprise ending of Psycho the movie. It worked.
It also illuminates the financial tug of war surrounding the film, which led Hitchcock to mortgage most of his private possessions.
Hopkins and Mirren are joined onscreen by James D'Arcy as a perfectly fidgety Anthony Perkins, Jessica Biel as Vera Miles and Scarlett Johansson as the steamy (literally in her shower scene) Janet Leigh. I'm not a fan of Johansson's pouting-as-acting technique, but she's pretty swell here.
Hitchcock offers some deconstruction of the master's demons and professional motivation but, ultimately, the film is equal part chills and nervous fun.
Alfred Hitchcock once quipped, "The cinema is not a slice of life but a piece of cake."
I'm going back for more. Hitchcock was delicious.