Anthony Hopkins is ‘Hitchcock’ on Blu-ray
Hitchcock Blu-ray Review
Starring Anthony Hopkins, Helen Mirren, Scarlett Johansson, Danny Huston, Toni Collette, James D’Arcy, Jessica Biel and Michael Wincott
Written by John J. McLaughlin based on the book “Alfred Hitchcock and the making of Psycho” by Stephen Rebello
Directed by Sacha Gervasi
New this week on DVD and Blu-ray from Fox Home Entertainment is the semi-biopic about the making of Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho, Hitchcock. The film stars Hannibal Lecter himself, Anthony Hopkins, as the Master of Suspense himself and Helen Mirren as his long suffering wife Alma. The film when released in theaters split audiences, so how does the transfer work on the small screen?
Hitchcock starts at the premiere for Alfred Hitchcock’s (Hopkins) North by Northwest. With the media convinced that the director’s best days are behind him, Alfred sets his wife Alma (Mirren) and assistant Peggy (Collette) on the lookout for his next project. Hoping to get his script in contention Whitfield Cook (Huston) shows up and starts sweet talking his former flame Alma. Meanwhile Hitch becomes enamored with the new book based on the real story of serial killer Ed Gein (Wincott), who Hitch sees as a manifestation during the filming, entitled Psycho. Against the wishes of the studio, his wife and everybody else, Hitchcock embarks on adapting the story and getting it committed to film. But the studio, his health, his former starlet Vera Miles (Biel) and current starlet Janet Leigh (Johansson) may all conspire to get in the way. And Whitfield may have other plans for Alma.
Hitchcock is far from an in depth, hard hitting biopic, but almost immediately the audience realizes they are in for a more whimsical and lighthearted treatment. The films transfers well to the smaller screen as the performances tend to stand out more. Hopkins is memorable as Hitchcock, like his Nixon he does not completely disappear physically into the role, but uses his performance to allow the audience to buy into the character. But its Mirren and her portrayal of Alma that steals the show. Her Alma is a confident and strong woman who is long overdue for her room in the spotlight after all the work she has done in her husband’s career. The rest of the supporting cast is quite good here, with Johansson doing some excellent work as Leigh and Biel possibly doing here best work in ages as Vera Miles. The decision of including Ed Gein as a character in the film is far-fetched and would have been terribly out of place if the performance by Wincott wasn’t so accomplished. His Gein makes you yearn for a biopic of his own on the serial killer.
The script may not be factually accurate, in fact it isn’t, but that seems to be an afterthought here. The characters, motivations and general tone of the film seem to be the biggest priority. That said the film will be very divisive because of this, as people looking for a historically significant portrayal of the events behind Psycho are likely to be left feeling empty. The dialogue is written well though besides perhaps the character of Whit who really does not come off nearly charming enough, especially on a second viewing, to realistically be able to seduce a woman of the intelligence of Alma. And according to the script for Hitchcock he nearly does.
Kudos must be given however to the team behind the film as the set design and decoration, costuming and cinematography are all fantastic. The film looks phenomenal, especially on the small screen, and provides an exceptional peek into the work of producing a feature film in the late 1959 studio system. From the small housing offices for the production and the sound stages to the vintage vehicles and decor of the Hitchcock home, the film doesn’t miss a beat.
The Blu-ray is loaded with special features about both the film and Hitchcock himself. The disc starts with an audio commentary with director Gervasi and author Stephen Rebello. Also included here are a deleted scene, trailer and a fun Hitchcock Cell Phone PSA. But the bulk of the special features is a bunch of featurettes included. ‘Becoming the Master: From Hopkins to Hitchcock’, ‘Obsessed with Hitchcock’ and a handful of others capture about an hour’s worth of behind the scenes footage. While ‘Remembering Hitchcock’ is a small feature on the man himself with interviews from people that knew Hitch included.
Hitchcock still features 2 very accomplished performances from its two leads Hopkins and Mirren. And despite its flaws still remains a very watchable film. Hitchcock is available at most retailers for around $30. Hitchcock is a rental and purchase recommend.
Till Next Time
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