Hitchcock: In Which the Director Is Treated as a Sad Clown

Early in this movie, Alfred Hitchcock (played by Sir Anthony Hopkins with a sack of fat connecting chin to neck) walks the red carpet at the premiere of his 1959 chase film, North by Northwest. “You’re 60 years old!” shouts a reporter. The scene is an announcement that Hitchcock will be the kind of Hollywood movie in which veterans on the verge of obsolescence figure out how to beat the industry’s system of cycling out the old in favor of the new by changing with the times on their own terms. For Hitchcock‘s Hitchcock, this means breaking away from starry “baubles” like North by Northwest to explore riskier territory. “What if someone really good made a horror picture?” he wonders. Hopkins’ imitation of Hitchcock’s distinctive vocal cadence—the accent and heaviness of delivery, as if each word was rolled in bacon on its way out—is initially disarming, but the performance seems less convincingly human as the film wears on, failing to build on its first impression. Scarlett Johansson as Janet Leigh looks like Scarlett Johansson, and distractingly so. More painful are the attempts to transform Helen Mirren, the international gold standard of GILFs, into a dowdy woman-behind-the-man; her wig could not be shittier. Unfortunately, Hitchcock is a movie about bygone Hollywood that’s distinctly a product of Hollywood circa now. It bears the influence of the kind of reality TV in which the subject’s career is the excuse for the show, but in terms of screen time, what they actually do for a living is relevant only in that it puts them in glamorous locales and in contact with potential catalysts for stock, soapy side drama.