Bookended with out-and-out references to Hitchcock's iconic television series, Sasha Gervasi's adaptation of Stephen Rebello's 1990 book, "Alfred Hitchcock and the Making of Psycho," is a fun watch indeed. It may not have the depth that one would hope for in a film about the making of one of this critic's all-time favourite films, but the portrayal of the Master of Suspense, by Anthony Hopkins, is a pitch perfect portrayal. Granted, much like Phillip Seymour Hoffman's Oscar-winning turn as Truman Capote, Hopkins' portrayal of Hitch is a bit mired down in what seems like cliché, but what is really just a perfect rendition of a bizarre and unique individual, but nevertheless, he sure is fun to watch. Oh yeah, and Helen Mirren ain't bad either. That last comment was, of course, tongue-in-cheek, as Ms. Mirren's performance as Alma Reville, wife of the legend, is as remarkably wry as ever. Yes, perhaps the film is a bit lackluster in certain places, and quite unspectacular in others, and much of this has to do with the direction, which seems to dangle a bit too long in middle-of-the-road territory, but the lead performances, and the cinephiliac asides and in-jokes, are enough to bring that dangle into more friendly territory for the duration.
Not actually a biopic - the crux of the film takes place over just six months or so - this film tries to play out less like a look into the life of the great and glorious Alfred Hitchcock, and more like a case study in paranoia, but in the end, it is nothing more than a pair of bravura performances, surrounded by a flat, yet fun, motion picture. There is a fun turn by James D'Arcy as Anthony Perkins, in which he becomes a veritable dead ringer for the late great actor. Scarlett Johansson and Jessica Biel, aka the new Mrs. Timberlake, are rather staid as Janet Leigh and Vera Miles, respectively - but then they are not really given much to do, so they are not really to be blamed for such underwhelming performances. With an ongoing motif of birds - supposedly to give us rather obvious foreshadowing of Hitch's next film, a foreshadowing that is needlessly heavy handed - and little nods and winks into film jokes, and cultural references of the time period, this film can be fun at times - cute even - but overall, this critic was hoping for more - a lot more. Still though, since watching a film based on one of your own heroes, can be quite dodgy - will they get it right, or more importantly, will they get it the way you want it to be, right or wrong - this film could have been quite a lot worse that the middling, but often fun film that it ends up being. Good evening, he said in his best Hitch voice. No offense Sir Anthony, but let us leave here with an image of the real Sir Alfred, and our own bird motif.