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Hitchcock

(2012)
Im not the biggest Alfred Hitchcock fan, but the trailer for this looked too good to pass up. Anthony Hopkins as Hitch, Helen Mirren as his wife Alma, and a focus not on his career but solely on the making of Psycho? Count me in. Hitchcock takes us through the process with some dramatization, likely of Hitchcock developing an interest in Psycho as a novel, trying to translate it into a movie, and everyone pleading with him not to do it; then we follow through its development as a film, chiefly through the lens of his relationship with his wife. Youll recognize some of the other faces: Toni Colette is his secretary Peggy, Danny Huston plays a writer named Whitfield Cook who develops a friendship with Alma and seems to want more, Michael Stuhlbarg is his agent Lew Wasserman, and rounding out the cast we have Jessica Biel as Vera Miles, and Scarlett Johansson as Janet Leigh. While much of the film naturally is taken up with the production of Psycho, theres quite a bit of time devoted to Hitchs and Almas relationship, her resentment of both his obsession with blondes and the lack of credit she gets for all the work she does for him (Alma was apparently a gifted script doctor, at least here), and his fears that hes getting too old, that hes losing his touch, and that his wife is having an affair. While Hopkins doesnt look all that much like Hitchcock (they make an effort, but), he certainly nails his character, or at least what we would expect Hitchcock to be like. Hes (naturally) excellent, though it doesnt hurt that he gets to bounce of Mirren in most scenes, and, as usual, she delivers a very strong performance. Individually these two are quite capable of carrying a movie like this, and together theyre magnificent. Huston and Stuhlbarg, though they have slightly smaller roles, are also excellent, as is Toni Collette. Given all this talent, its a bit of surprise that James DArcy (playing Anthony Perkins) registers at all, and an even bigger surprise that Biel sort of out of her depth in this league is so good. I was deeply impressed by Johansson as well; shes eerily able to summon the spirit of Janet Leigh until youre almost seeing the real deal, not the actor playing her. On top of great acting and painstaking attention to period detail (always appreciated), the movies a good deal of fun. It breaks the fourth wall in spots, but this is a carefully crafted and well-acted movie thats simply a delight to experience. It surpassed my expectations (which is rare) and was eminently enjoyable. What more can you ask? September 16, 2013