If you had thought about Alfred Hitchcock before the past few months, you probably would have simply thought of the legendary filmmakers many classics: “Psycho,” “Vertigo,” “Rear Window”…
But now there’s a movie: “Hitchcock,” released on Friday (Nov. 23). What do the critics think of this version of the man?
Loosely based on the book, “Hitchcock and the Making of ‘Psycho'” by Stephen Rebello, “Hitchcock” stars Anthony Hopkins in the title role with Helen Mirren playing the director’s wife, Alma Reville, and Scarlett Johansson as star Janet Leigh. The events of the film revolve around the production of Hitchcock’s horror masterpiece, “Psycho.”
Alas for “Hitchcock,” directed by Sacha Gervasi, many critics do not seem to find that the new film meets Hitchcockian standards.
New York Times film critic Manohla Dargis avoids specific criticism of the film in favor of a more global flaw in the idea of who Alfred Hitchcock actually was: “It reads him through his work, as if his movies were a direct reflection of his mind, soul and deepest, darkest desires.”
Dargis argues that the result is a lesser film reflecting its desire to tear down the “Psycho” director. ” Although it tiptoes on the dark side, ‘Hitchcock’ takes a lighter, more strenuously comic if patronizing approach to the director,” Dargis concludes. “It’s fluff. But while its dim fantasies about Hitchcock and the association of genius with psychosis can be written off as silly, they also smack of spiteful jealousy.”
Wesley Morris of the Boston Globe seems to agree. “There’s no case to be made for a mangy shortcut like ‘Hitchcock.’ It’s all surface and formula,” Morris writes. “‘Hitchcock’ might find a happy audience in those who want to know exactly what was on the director’s mind during the filming of the shower sequence in ‘Psycho’: a randy screenwriter (stab!), the head of Paramount (stab!), the pesky censors (double stab!). Had I a knife, I might have turned it on myself.”
In contrast, Justin Craig of Fox News calls the film “a charming little movie about love and marriage, with just a dash of serial murder thrown in for good measure.” Craig has extra praise for the two lead actors: “While Hopkins rambles on as the director struggles to stay afloat, it’s Mirren’s forceful presence that has the ultimate drawing power. The two actors are electric together. Every scene with them feels like an Oscars highlight clip.”