It is 1959. Alfred Hitchcock is fresh off the triumph of North By Northwest, a film to be ultimately numbered among the best ever. Now, he’s casting around for a new project. He comes upon Robert Bloch’s novel
This, then, is the material that occupies Sacha Gervasi’s movie Hitchcock. Anthony Hopkins, barely visible or recognizable beneath tons of padding and prosthetics, is the director. Helen Mirren is his wife and collaborator, Alma Reville. We also meet the stars of Psycho, Janet Leigh (Scarlett Johansson), Vera Miles (Jessica Biel) and Anthony Perkins (James D’Arcy).
In this version of his life, as opposed to The Girl, the HBO film about the director’s relationship with actress Tippi Hedren, the only obsession suffered by the director is to get the film made. He pays scant attention to his “Hitchcock Blonde” star. He just want to make his movie.
To do so, he has to overcome the squeamishness of the studio that is not comfortable with the subject matter. And, in a kind of perfect balance, the audience cannot be completely comfortable with this director who is so taken with a serial killer who liked to wear his victims’ skin.
The tone of the film is mocking, generally lightweight.. It is good when focusing on Johansson as Janet Leigh and, in particular, on the filming of the famous shower scene. Other than that, it leaves us wondering if this man — this Hitchcock we see in this movie — could possibly, by any stretch of the imagination — be responsible for the great movies Alfred Hitchcock actually made. Surely it must be some other guy.