Amanda Doughty ’16 / Emertainment Monthly Staff
Lately, it seems as though there have been an epidemic of biopics in Hollywood. At least once an awards season, we see a movie come out about the life of some infamous spy, politician, actor, writer or anything of the sort. We already had one this season, about the infamous life of Abraham Lincoln. Now, we have another about the much more mysterious life of acclaimed director Alfred Hitchcock; or, more importantly, the making of his hit horror film Psycho. With all these biopics being released, it takes an awful lot to stand out among the crowd, and this movie simply does not do that.
That is not to say the movie is bad, it is actually quite good. It had several really excellent qualities to it, particularly the way they opened the film. It is cleverly opened, grabbing the audience’s attention from the get-go. While the film ended on a the similar high note that it began on, it was the middle that needed some work. There were certain things that felt a bit unnecessary and a little confusing, such as Hitchcock’s visions of Norman Bates (the central character of his movie). In addition, there were things that could have been expanded upon, such as the backstory of Anthony Perkins (the actor casted as Norman Bates), or the conflict between Hitchcock and Vera Miles (one of his former “Hitchcock Blondes”). If Alfred Hitchcock could have seen this movie for himself, he certainly would have changed a few things.
As far as the acting, there are really only two people that matter: Anthony Hopkins as Alfred Hitchcock, and Helen Mirren as his wife Alma. There are other characters, but they are all so minor that it is almost like a bunch of cameos (though I will say James D’Arcy was fantastic as Anthony Perkins and I wish I saw more of him). These two characters are all that really matter, and they are truly excellent performances. Hopkins’ portrayal of Hitchcock is subtle, yet incredibly effective in showing the flaws of this famed director. The real scene-stealer, though, is Mirren, who delivers every scene with the grace and elegance she is so known for. Of course, it’s hard not to watch these two actors and not think of them as “Queen Elizabeth” or “Hannibal Lector” (particularly in Hopkins’ case, since both Psycho and Silence of the Lambs are ranked among the top horror movies of all time), but they do their best to work through that and give overall great performances.
The hardest part about this movie is that it is a bit hard to follow if you have not seen Psycho. People were laughing at certain jokes in around me, while I- having not seen the film- just sat there in confusion. I definitely feel I would have appreciated the movie more if I had seen it. Thus, if you’re going to see this movie, watch Psycho first. And some theaters are playing both as a double feature; so if that’s happening around you, take advantage of it! Despite that, this movie was entertaining. It provided insight to a man many people still consider a mystery, which made it an incredibly fascinating film. There are things that could have been done better, but it’s an overall good movie.
See it: If you love Alfred Hitchcock’s work, and would like to know more about who he was in his glory days. Or see it if you love Anthony Hopkins and Helen Mirren, because there is an awful lot of them in this movie, and they do a great job.
Don’t see it: If you are as tired of biopics as I am.