This biopic about one of the most famous film directors of all time is a puzzling entity. Even though it is about cinema, and how a film is crafted from conception to post-production, it feels strangely televisual. Maybe that is because television is becoming so cinematic these days. Shows such as Homeland, Dancing on the Edge, Ripper Street and Secret State feel like they have been ripped out a multiplex and fed to your TV screen. But I genuinely would not have been surprised if this was originally intended as a one-off ITV drama – maybe a co-production with an American channel such as PBS or HBO. But it isn’t; it is and has always been a cinema feature. And while rather entertaining at times, it feels a little odd.
The film is set up as a love story between the married couple as Alfred Hitchcock endeavours to film his 1960 masterpiece Psycho. Anthony Hopkins is undeniably superb as the eccentric, overweight director. Helen Mirren, on the other hand, is competent if not sensational in the role of his wife, Alma. Perhaps it is because I was so impressed with Imelda Staunton’s portrayal of the Nottingham-shire born assistant director, writer and editor in the BBC drama The Girl, screened last year, that Mirren’s performance seems bland in comparison.
The supporting actors all follow in the same perfectly-fine-without-being-very-remarkable vein. Toni Collette, Scarlett Johanson, James D’Arcy and others all contribute well-judged turns, but none of them stick in the mind after viewing.
The process of filming itself is rather well documented, but director Sacha Gervasi handles it with too light a touch for it to be anything more than comfortably watchable.
Hitchcock (2012), directed by Sacha Gervasi, is distributed in the UK by Twentieth Century Fox, Certificate 12A.