Pauls Valley, Oklahoma — In my never ending stumble to enjoy almost all things film, I will admit one area that has been hardest not to snub have been flicks under the label of horror or suspense. Realizing much of this disregard has come due to an endless slander of the genre by Hollywood over the past couple of decades, I concede that there have been many notable accomplishments that don’t deserve my ire.
Such a subject includes not only today’s title, but the lead actor, who portrays a man whose very genius is why the category even has a life at all in cinemas to this day. In fact, the overall delivery of the story even exceeded the positive expectations I had before watching what I suspected would be a match made in creepy heaven. “Hitchcock” is a clever blend of biography and fiction filled with not only witty suspense, but laughter to match every blessed second.
The story (based in part on a book called Alfred Hitchcock and the Making of Psycho) is set in 1959, shortly after Alfred Hitchcock (Anthony Hopkins) has released “North by Northwest” and focuses on his attempt to regain the creativity that made him famous in his youth. He eventually settles on “Psycho,” inspired by a book of the same name for his next movie and thus begins one of his life’s most challenging chapters.
From the beginning he seems to experience (or in the case of womanizing causes) roadblocks in just about every form on the journey to making the flick from his studio not being all that cooperative in supporting it to the divide that seems to grow in the relationship with his wife Alma Reville (Helen Mirren). Despite all of this he presses onward and what at times reminds us of the ill effects of being selfish in our ambitions ends up being a character building exercise for the man who we all love as a legend. It has no lack of interesting revelations for the audiences and in tribute to his quirky style (be it hints to his portly shadow or humorous quips in conversation) it is easy to forget that one is not watching something in real time, thus making it more of a shared adventure than a movie.
I don’t think there could have been a better actor choice for the lead role (including the amazing makeup job), his wife and really even some of the actors picked to reenact the filming of “Psycho.” There were moments when James D’Arcy felt like a perfect replica of Anthony Perkins and Scarlett Johansson had to be channeling Janet Leigh in what I’d say would be a no brainer if a studio actually remade the film based on the serial killer Ed Gein (who was portrayed by Michael Wincott in such a way to be almost as award winningly disturbing as Hopkins’ Lecter).
I also have to give props to Danny Elfman conducting one of the best scores in years, though why wouldn’t it be spectacular when since he fed off of Bernard Herrman (portrayed by Paul Schackman). All in all, it was something I highly recommend for fans of both the actor and the character who knew how to kill in cinema and am a bit disappointed it did not get more nomination attention from the Academy. In the end, the final verdict for “Hitchcock” is a terrifying four and a half out of five screams.
DVD rental courtesy of Family Video of Pauls Valley.