For all his fame and cinematic brilliance, Alfred Hitchcock remained an enigmatic figure — prolific on the screen, private off it. The new biopic "Hitchcock," starring Anthony Hopkins as the eponymous director and Helen Mirren as wife Alma Reville, attempts to shed some light on the master of suspense by dramatizing the making of his fabled 1960 chiller "Psycho."
According to many film critics, however, "Hitchcock" offers more speculation than illumination and fails to bring its subject to life.
Times film critic Kenneth Turan writes that despite the film's "major league star power … this is one cinematic portrait of a marriage we could have lived without." Hopkins and Mirren "have their moments," Turan says, "and the film buffs in the audience will enjoy having movie history circa 1959 come to life." More problematically, however, "[The film's] protagonists turn out to be not especially interesting and the audience is not presented any convincing reason to care about what happens in their lives."
The New York Times' Manohla Dargis describes "Hitchcock" as a mix of "amusing performances, historical re-creations and heavily perfumed fertilizer." Working from a script by John J. McLaughlin based on the Stephen Rebello book "Alfred Hitchcock and the Making of 'Psycho,'" director Sacha Gervasi is "fearlessly unsubtle," with clumsy allusions to Hitchcock's body of work and some shaky armchair analysis suggesting that the British auteur "was himself a little psycho and could only work from a place of madness." Chief among the film's diversions, Dargis says, are "Scarlett Johansson’s bodacious Janet Leigh and Michael Stuhlbarg’s wheedling Lew Wasserman."