Genre: Biography, Drama
Director: Sacha Gervasi
Screenwriter: John J. McLaughin
based on the book by Stephen Rebello
Music: Danny Elfman
Cinematography: Jeff Cronenweth
Last year’s Oscar hopeful, crash-landed with only a consoling BEST MAKEUP nomination, a hagiography of Hitchcock’s bumpy road of making PSYCHO (1960), but indulging Ms. Hitchcock, Alma Reville hogging her equally abundant screen time does remind us another Helen Mirren commandeering biopic THE LAST STATION (2009), a manifest feminist protest only Dame Mirren dare to assume (twice!), albeit its Sir + Dame combo with an assortment of interesting supporting players, the film has undergone a rather bland and unimaginative story-line, after all why we just rematch PSYCHO again? Undoubtedly it would be more fun.
The film marks writer Sacha Gervasi’s non-documentary director debut, and only took a little more than one-month to shoot, for film aficionados, the story itself is hardly a novelty, with barriers all corralled together ahead of the production (difficult to believe even at the height of Hitchcock), the film firmly lays its gravitation at Hitchcock’s fraught relationship with Alma, a thirty year itch, the mutual tolerance has to be tested at length. But Gervasi and screenwriter John J. McLaughin appear to be inept in perk up the source material, whose execution is an array of cliches and witless lines, like MY WEEK WITH MARILYN (2011), its entire credo is to exploit Hollywood anecdote and real-person imitation to seek for Oscar beckoning (with different comeuppances).
Sir Anthony Hopkins, hampered by the heavy make-up, hardly has any subtle expressions to act apart from his funny accent (no idea it is accurate or not, anyway I’m no purist in that), which is constantly vexing. Ms. Mirren again, against the uninspired script, leads the way into her character’s inner battle, excellent work but doomed to be less appreciated thanks to the tepid allure the film could dole out. More untapped is the rest of the cast, 10 years after LOST IN TRANSLATION (2003), Johansson’s still soliciting her first Oscar nomination and the road has become bleaker and even tragic (by the way, to those who predicted she would surely gain an Oscar before 30, the joke is on yourselves), her reprisal of the bathroom murder scenes is the only dazzling solace in the film. Jessica Biel is a bona-fide laughing-stock, her rustic squareness is a humiliation for Ms. Miles but James D’Arcy’s Anthony Perkins is golden, scandalously he is in here for less than 5 minutes. The under-used villain stereotype Michael Wincott plays Ed Gein, an archetype and inspiration of Norman Bates, lingers as a ghost figure near Hitchcock, desperately needs a film of his own. As for Toni Collette, find another agent, please!
Although it might be the truth, the real life of the master of suspense could be a bore, a cantankerous figure with blonde issues (or female issues) but is deeply in love with his aged wife, that is life which most of us are experiencing, and that’s exactly why we need movies, not only to entertain, but widen our horizon as well, which neither can be pulled off from this film.