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Still shot from the movie: Hitchcock.

Hitchcock

Hitchcock may be a household name, but few are familiar with the woman behind the genius -- Alma Reville, his wife and collaborator. This movie, starring Anthony Hopkins and Helen Mirren, explores their unique relationship and creative partnership as they produce the film Psycho.

Overall Grade: B
Violence: C+
Sexual Content: C+
Language: B-
Drugs/Alcohol: C
Release Date: 06 Dec 2012
Run Time: 99
MPAA Rating: PG-13

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In-Depth Review

The camera turns from the action in front of it to the man behind it in the movie Hitchcock. Anthony Hopkins, wearing a fat suit, portrays the legendary, corpulent director Alfred Hitchcock who made movie history with his production of Psycho. (Among other things it was the first American movie to show a flushing toilet.) But while the making of that movie’s famous shower scene is depicted along with some other brief scenes from the film, Hitchcock focuses more on the filmmaker’s marriage and obsession with his work.

Unable to secure funding for his new project based on the life of Wisconsin killer Ed Gein, Alfred mortgages the home where he and his wife Alma Reville (Helen Mirren) live. Alma then imposes some household austerity measures (like a gardener only once a week) to make ends meet. Yet despite Alma’s support of the decision, the couple’s marriage is strained at times. Alfred experiences his regular “fantasy romance with his leading lady” as Alma refers to it. And Alma, in an effort to not lose herself in her husband’s overwhelming fixation on his new production, begins writing on the side with a friend Whitfield Cook (Danny Huston). It is soon evident Whit is looking for more than a scriptwriting colleague.

Dealing with unspoken jealousies, a formidable filming schedule and demands from Paramount officials who are under contract to distribute the controversial film, Alfred and Alma sense a fracture in their relationship at a time when he needs the support of his spouse more than ever. But his wife isn’t the only one to feel pressure from the controlling director.

While making Psycho, the director also demands an oath of silence from his stars Anthony Perkins (James D’Arcy), Janet Leigh (Scarlett Johansson) and Vera Miles (Jessica Biel), along with the production staff. He insists his assistant Peggy Robertson (Toni Collette) buy every copy of the book Psycho she can find in order to keep the movie’s ending a surprise. And when the studio makes little effort to promote his film, Hitchcock, as much a master of marketing as of movie making, devises an intriguing release strategy to compensate for the studio’s failures.

Adapting Hitchcock, Director Sacha Gervasi and screenwriter John McLaughlin bring other intimate details of the British filmmaker’s life to the screen, including his love of drink and blondes. More than once, Alfred turns to the bottle to calm his nerves, as well as flirts ostentatiously with his leading ladies in front of his wife.

Though Hitchcock will likely have little appeal for children or even most teens, audiences should note the film includes some graphic, albeit brief, shots of decapitated corpses, a brutal family killing and some gruesome verbal descriptions of cut up murder victims. However for fans of the director and his movies, this intimate focus on the personal life of the famous filmmaker and his wife portrays the power of this collaborative team.

Release Date: 23 November 2012 (Limited)

Content Details: Beyond the Movie Ratings...

Violence: A man is hit over the head and killed. Photos of decapitated corpses are seen. Other dead bodies are briefly shown. A man gives gruesome descriptions of murdered bodies. Characters act out the famous shower scene from Psycho, which depicts a vicious stabbing.

Sexual Content: A married couple each suspects their partner of being unfaithful. A married man has an affair with another woman. Several female characters are seen in their bras. Some sexual innuendo is included.

Language: The script contains numerous terms of Deity, some mild profanities and a crude term used as a double entendre for male anatomy.

Alcohol / Drug Use: Characters drink on numerous occasions. A man secretly drinks to relieve stress and gives alcohol to his dogs. Some cigarette and cigar use is also depicted.

Discussion Ideas: Talk About the Movie...

After reading Alfred Hitchcock’s bio, what similarities do you see between his life and many of his characters? Why does Alfred seem to fear that all women will betray him? Who does he think betrays him in the film?

How does Alma show her support to her husband? What sacrifices is she willing to make for him?

How does Alfred become haunted by his current project? Is obsession or consuming passion a necessary trait for success as an artist?

This movie is based on the book Alfred Hitchcock and the Making of Psycho by Stephen Rebello. The movie Psycho is based on the crimes of Wisconsin killer Ed Gein.

Video alternatives

Besides Psycho, other films that Hitchcock directed that made him known as the “Master of Suspense” include: Lifeboat, Rear Window and Vertigo. Both of these actors have played real people before: Anthony Hopkins in Shadowlands as C.S. Lewis and Helen Mirren in The Queen as Elizabeth II—the monarch of Great Brittan.

Home Video Notes

Home Video Notes: Hitchcock

Release Date:  12 March 2013

Hitchcock releases to home video (Blu-ray/DVD/Digital Copy) with the following extras:

- Deleted Scene

- Remembering Hitchcock

- Commentary with Sacha Gervasi and Stephen Rebello

- Theatrical Trailer

- Becoming the Master: From Hopkins to Hitchcock

- Obsessed with Hitchcock

- Sacha Gervasi’s Behind the Scenes Cell Phone Footage

- Hitchcock Cell Phone PSA

- The Story

- The Cast

- Danny Elfman Maestro

- Hitch and Alma

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About the Reviewer: Kerry Bennett

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