Hitchcock arrives, rather inconveniently, two months after the superior BBC/HBO co-production The Girl, which cast Toby Jones as a deadpan, ruthless Hitch and Sienna Miller as Tippi Hedron, the blonde star of The Birds and Marnie who endured his abuse.
Hitchcock takes place three years before the events in The Girl, and covers the shooting of Psycho. Instead of the predatory and vengeful Toby Jones, we have Anthony Hopkins lumbering around in a fat suit, pate shaved, facial prosthetics in place. He captures the director’s rotund profile; but for some reason he sounds a lot like Michael Caine. Anthony Hopkins is at his best when playing Anthony Hopkins; he is not the kind of actor to immerse himself in a part or, as he is called upon here, to play a real person.
In The Girl, Hitch’s long-suffering wife Alma was played with a flinty stoicism by Imelda Staunton; here she is played by Helen Mirren, flirting with Danny Huston’s rakish writer. This is the Hollywoodisation of Hitchcock: a weightless, making of story. Hitch wants to make Psycho; the studio want North By Northwest II instead. Hitch gambles the house; we know, of course, that he wins. So where’s the drama? There’s none of the chewy subtext, the sexual obsession, of The Girl; certainly, Hitch doesn’t visit any lecherous intent on Scarlett Johansson’s Janet Leigh. Most peculiarly, Hitchcock finds himself in fantasy sequences with Ed Gein, the serial killer who inspired Psycho’s Norman Bates.
Rating: 6 / 10
Opens February 8 // Certificate 12A