By Allison Follbaum

I remember the first Hitchcock film I ever saw; Rear Window with Jimmy Stewart and Grace Kelly (presumably before she became a princess).  I remember being terrified that night when I went to bed, because I stopped the movie at the part where they find out that the neighbor killed his wife, chopped her up into tiny pieces, and buried her in a hatbox in the apartment complex garden.

That’s the kind of horror I was expecting from Hitchcock, directed by Sacha Gervasi.  A sweeping cinematic score that would mimic exactly what I was feeling and imagining in my head.  Jumping at scenes with shadows of hands holding knives hidden behind curtains and the sneaking suspicion that the beautiful heroine’s life would be threatened.

Instead, I experienced an almost cutesy film (although I’m not sure PG-13 could be billed as cutesy) about the relationship between Alfred Hitchcock (lovingly called “Hitch” by his wife and close friends) and his wife, Alma Reville.  Hitch, played by Anthony Hopkins and Alma, played by Helen Mirren, with other big names Scarlett Johansson and Jessica Biel depicting the actresses featured in his newest project, Psycho.

Conflict between Hitch and Alma centered around their lack of communication, showing they had lost sight of their love for each other.  Hitch spent his days (and nights) working on his popular films, always wanting to find the “next best thing.” Alma, frustrated with the lack of attention, started collaborating with a writer who requested her help to transform his book into a screenplay. 

Film studios and the media show distaste at the prospect of Psycho being Hitch’s next project but that doesn’t stop him from raising the money himself to start production.  He asks the voluptuous actress, Janet Leigh (Johansson), to play the lead, adding more fuel to the fire of marital problems with Alma.  But she’s driving up the coast every weekend to write with Whitfield Cook (Danny Huston), so there’s not much room to talk.  When he suffers a heart attack and production halts, an angel in disguise steps in to help save the day.

I thought the chemistry and relationship between Mirren and Hopkins showed the steady, comfortable relationship a couple experiences after many years of support and love for each other.  Hopkins’ portrayal of Hitch gives a chuckle, or maybe that’s just the eccentricity of Hitchcock himself.  Mirren always seems to be spectacular in every role she portrays, and she’s part of the reason that I wasn’t bored halfway through.

Although the movie chronicles the rise and fall of the Hitchcock’s relationship, the parts of the movie that depict the hoops he jumps through to make Psycho, document the most interesting history.  His casting process, directing process, and the moments when he sees himself in the book, show what an eccentric character Hopkins portrays with a tongue-in-cheek attitude.  Hitchcock is not a thriller or a horror film so loyal Hitchcock fans, consider yourself warned before you buy your tickets to the movie. It’s a story about dysfunctional, yet unconditional, love. 


‘Hitchcock’ portrays love, not thriller, story