"But they can't stop looking. Can they?"
On both the large and small screens, Alfred Hitchcock's legacy was suspense—riveting, and often insightful. The biopic, Hitchcock, although a reasonably entertaining way to pass 98 minutes, is none of that.
The movie takes place in 1959 when "Hitch" (Anthony Hopkins) determines against all advice to make the movie adaptation of the novel Psycho—even though he must finance it himself and risk losing everything. His wife and partner, Alma Reville (Helen Mirren), ardently supports him; but even she tires of his womanizing, crankiness, and addictive eating. Hitchcock, capturing the intersection of conflicted relationship and the filming of Psycho, offers the sense of "you were there" insider status.
What the hell was happening on Planet Oscar when this movie received a nomination for Best Make-up and Hairstyling? Although Anthony Hopkins' prosthetic profile does bear some resemblance to that of The Master of Suspense, how exactly did they achieve it—with a badly fitting fat suit or spackle? Ugly, ugly job. Yet the make-up artists for The Impossible, who accomplished all that title implies by creating realistic tsumani injury effects, got bupkus. The period hairstyles of Hitchcock were nicely done; but 80-year-old ladies are accomplishing that without the benefit of Hollywood.
Rants aside, the movie is well acted and renders an engaging story. Anthony Hopkins and Helen Mirren execute their usual superb performances. Scarlett Johannson is a believable and graceful Janet Leigh (although as characters go, her role as Black Widow in The Avengers has far more kick), showing the delicate balance Leigh achieved in getting along with Hitchcock as her director, while avoiding his advances. The movie and its actors effectively convey that where Hitchcock was concerned, it was possible to be simultaneously a genius... and a pig.