The works of Alfred Hitchcock are prone to evoking visceral reactions from their audience. They go for the gut, then the heart – and on many occasions the Master of Suspense is right on target. However once Hitchcock (Sacha Gervasi’s first feature film) concludes, knee-jerk responses or passionate sentiments are nowhere to be found, and out of sight.
Light, slight, and a bit on the unadventurous side, Gervasi’s bio-picture chronicles the production behind Hitch’s most famous film to date, Psycho. At 98-minutes, the film is a rather remedial examination of an auteur attempting to stay relevant.
When Hitchcock ventures away from the on-set theatrics and Hitchcock’s (played by Anthony Hopkins) obsessions with icy blondes that only exist in his movies, interest begins to wane. John J. McLaughlin’s screenplay attempts to paint a true representation of the tempestuous marriage between Alfred and his wife Alma Reville (Helen Mirren); it doesn’t.
Shot, produced, and completed with an MPAA rating of PG-13, Hitchcock isn’t nearly dark enough to expose and examine Hitch’s darkest secrets and fetishes. We see a marriage crumbling, misstepping, and then quickly rebound when the plot needs it to. There’s a subplot detailing Alma’s mounting frustration with living under the shadow of her husband – which compels her to assist on a screenplay with writer Whitfield Cook (a slimy “friend” with a hidden agenda played by Danny Huston). Again, Gervasi doesn’t dig deep enough into the character’s emotions to elicit an impactful response.
For better or worse, Hitchcock doesn’t play like a heliography, drowning in its own reverence for this deity. Instead Gervasi’s minor expose on Alfred Hitchcock comes off as a sporadically enjoyable, often underwhelming, and wholly lackluster snapshot of the artist’s career.
The good bio-pictures discover and unravel facets of the subject we’ve never seen before. They make us reexamine our relationship with the artist, perhaps even educe questions and further contemplation on our part. Unfortunately, Hitchcock inspires one singular, pulsating inquisition throughout: why does this film exist?
Fox Searchlight has yet to comment on the inquiry.