DRAMA; 1hr 39min
STARRING: Anthony Hopkins, Helen Mirren, Scarlett Johansson
Behind the scenes: Mirren and Hopkins
It’s 1959 and Hollywood’s 60-year-old Master of Suspense, Alfred Hitchcock (a mightily upholstered Hopkins), is in sore need of “a nice, clean, nasty little piece of work” for his next movie. Hitch, as he’s universally known, finds just the ticket in Robert Bloch’s just-published novel Psycho, about monstrous killer Ed Gein. The gruesome concept ruffles studio feathers, but Hitch is loftily unmoved, refusing to compromise and financing the film himself.
And bully for him: Psycho ’s succès de scandale is so much the stuff of cinema lore that director Sacha Gervasi’s bird’s-eye swoop behind the scenes is a tasty guilty pleasure, with Johansson and James D’Arcy as Janet Leigh and Anthony Perkins and Toni Collette as Hitch’s tight-lipped secretary, Peggy.
Hopkins as Hitchcock is a gluttonous, sleaze-dipped case, while Mirren, as his staunch wife, Alma Reville, bites back Alma’s frustration and hurt at her obsessional husband’s wandering eye. Like many long-term couples, their relationship lies largely in the unspoken. It’s a co-dependency as individual as any dark artistry that Hitchcock’s curious psyche ever conjured up.