Yesterday, we saw Hitchcock, both of us wondering what they could do with a story about the corpulent, head-cocked director of suspense films. We found out. It was 1960 and Hitch (Anthony Hopkins) was adamant about making a film focusing on Ed Gein, an infamous serial killer of the day. Almost no one, even his wife Alma (Helen Mirren), thinks this is a good idea. When Paramount refuses to make it for him, he decides to finance it on his own, risking his reputation and nearly all the money he has. The story seems to be lighter in tone than one would expect from a movie about the making of Psycho, maybe the best and best known horror film ever made. The story involves two strands, the making of Psycho and the many facets of Hitch’s character, his love of, his inattention to Alma, his predatory fascination with beautiful women, especially the women he chooses to star in his films. And Scarlet Johansson, as Janet Leigh, is especially fascinating.
One of the funniest moments comes at the first showing of Psycho, as Hitch anticipates the audience reaction to the shower scene, with its iconic shrieking violins. Hopkins had fun playing with his role as Hitchcock, but it was Helen Mirren who stole the show as Alma Reville. Welcome to the Bates Motel.