Brian Henry Martin at the movies

A Hitch-Cock And Bull Story

Published Thursday, 07 February 2013
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Legendary film director Alfred Hitchcock, who died in 1980, has been curiously resurrected for a revealing new big screen biography starring Sir Anthony Hopkins.

For the first time we see behind the torn shower curtain on the troubled set of Psycho.

But sadly the only revelations from this horrific film is how this clunky soap opera ever got made and how anyone thought Hopkins's blubber suit and mockney accent would be anything other than a ridiculous impersonation.

What should be a darkly delicious slice of cinematic delight is really a preposterous pantomime of dud jokes and lame duck performances.

Hitchcock explores the off-set and off-beat relationship between the great director and his wife and partner Alma Reville (played by Helen Mirren). We meet this brilliant odd couple basking in the success of their latest hit, North By North West. "You're the most famous director in the medium" a reporter tells Hitchcock "But you're sixty years old, shouldn't you quit while you are ahead?"

Hitchcock retorts with devilish panache unveiling his riskiest and most macabre film project yet, Psycho, based on the real-life Wisconsin killer Ed Gein "Is it still a picture about a queer killing people in his mother's dress?" snaps Barney Balaban the acerbic President of Paramount Pictures. Meet Norman Bates (James D'Arcy as Anthony Perkins), Marion Crane (Scarlett Johansson as Janet Leigh) and the rest of the Psycho cast and crew.

Movies about the tedious process of film making are notoriously difficult to get right, as the real drama is happening on screen. And I couldn't help wishing I was watching Psycho instead of this monster mess. Anthony Hopkins is a wonderful screen actor, whose work I greatly admire.

But strangely his most unconvincing performances have been portraying real life characters; his Richard Nixon needed fixing, his Pablo Picasso was a fiasco and now his Hitchcock is complete schlock.

Also miscast as the pocket rocket Mrs Hitchcock is Helen Mirren, who is more Alma Cogan than Alma Reville. It should be illuminating to see the very talented Alma step out of the shadow of her husband and claim her rightful place in film history. But unfortunately, her shred character is hopelessly wasted on a fictional sub-plot involving an alleged affair with a tiresome screenwriter, Whitfield Cook (played by Danny Huston).

"Don't ask me" Hopkins tells his leading lady "I'm just a man hiding in the corner with my camera. My camera will tell you the truth". But the truth is, that it's simply ludicrous for a first time feature director like Sacha Gervasi to make a film biography of a cinema genius. As ludicrous as a complete novice writing a play about Shakespeare or repainting the Sistine Chapel.

Inexplicably Gervasi makes a movie about 'the Master of Suspense' without any suspense.

Hitchcock once said "Drama is life with the dull parts left out", ironic then that this Hitchcock movie is a stuffy succession of extremely dull scenes.


Hitchcock (Cert 12a) is on general release from Friday 8th February.

© UTV News
B. H. Martin
B. H. Martin

Brian Henry Martin is an accomplished documentary filmmaker and UTV's resident film critic, appearing regularly on UTV Live Tonight.

No matter what the film, there's a good chance Brian has seen it.

Twice.

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