Camp and Sensationalism Make “Hitchcock” a Real Thrill

Hitchcock is the campy film you didn’t realize you wished every biopic would be. From the moment Anthony Hopkins—in full Alfred Hitchcock makeup—breaks the fourth wall and talks to the audience, you know that the film will be relying more on humor and sensationalism than pure historic fact. Based on the book by Stephen Rebello about the making of Psycho, it is quickly apparent that this film will be (successfully) reveling in back-lot rumors and humorous Hitchcockian suspense.

Hitchcock’s quest to make a surprising new movie leads him to the scandalous novel Psycho, which is based on a true story. Despite advice from everyone—the studio; his wife Alma (Helen Mirren); his secretary (Toni Collette)—he’s determined to make this film. He enlists the help of actors Janet Leigh (Scarlett Johansson); Anthony Perkins (James D’Arcy); and Vera Miles (Jessica Biel) to make this groundbreaking horror film while battling the ratings board to get the film released.

HitchcockHitchcock is one part behind-the-scenes film, exploring the creation of Psycho; and one part relationship drama, following Alfred and Alma’s relationship. When Alfred’s obsession with Psycho, and seeming obsession with Leigh, threaten the marriage, Alma turns to her overly supportive friend Whitfield Cook (Danny Huston) for guidance and attention. Hitchcock, in turn, grows deeply jealous; and we begin to see that behind every great man there really is a great woman.

Farcical humor and cheap thrills are played up to great amusement throughout the film, giving it an easy-going tone. We still learn a lot about the making of Psycho without being too concerned about historical accuracies (this film doesn’t resemble Capote so much as “the other Capote film” Infamous). And, with Hopkins and Mirren at the helm, you know you’re in good hands. The supporting cast, too, is surprisingly delightful to watch. Biel, especially, stands out as jealous and manipulative Miles (is this her year?).

Hitchcock is a truly delightful film that will assuredly put you in the mood to revisit Psycho and other classic Hitchcock films. Unfortunately, the light-hearted tone of the film kills most of its Oscar chances, despite making it a very enjoyable biopic. (Imagine if Lincoln had been as campy!)

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