Revealing The ‘Psycho’ Within: Hitchcock (2013)

Though by no means technically crafted and executed in plot to the standards Alfred Hitchcock set in various cinematic masterpieces, his namesake still holds merit.

Hitchcock is set during Hitch’s search for his next film project. Wanting to shock the public out of their expectations, Hitch chooses Robert Bloch’s book Psycho, itself based upon the murderous acts of Ed Gein. Hitchcock could have been a practice in historical plot formula noting the process of Psycho‘s production. To the merit of script writer John J. McLaughlin, Hitchcock reveals the back story of Psycho‘s origins and the stain of making Psycho had on both Hitch and his wife/collaborator Alma.

Unravelling Ed Gein’s complex motivations certainly educated those who may not have known of Psycho‘s origins emphasising the bold move Hitch took in his career against the morally uptight Hays Code. In retrospect the transformation of Gein’s crimes into the psychological thriller that became Psycho shows how Hitchcock teaches novices of the namesake’s visionary talent.

An additional layer of McLaughlin’s script was the dark undertones building between Hitch and Alma. His jealousy over Alma’s friendship with an acquaintance leads to feverish paranoia, deadly fixations and sexual perversion mixed into territory similar to Psycho‘s. With all this to contend with, Anthony Hopkins (Hitch) and Helen Mirren (Alma) handle these challenges with great authenticity conveying with conviction their character’s personalities and fears.

If there is a negative on my part with Hitchcock was its self-awareness to which refers to sections of specific dialogue which spoon-feeds information about previous endeavors and contains numerous cultural references. Though to those like myself well aware of Hitch’s career this was of high annoyance. However on the flipside it is helpful for audiences unaware of Hitch’s career up to Psycho. I also make the same argument for the casting of Scarlett Johansson and Jennifer Biel. Casting well-known faces in small parts helps novices identify them regarding certain scenes but if Hitchcock‘s aim was to focus primarily on Hitch, it causes problems depending on which section of the audience you’re on.

Anthony Hopkins as Hitch

Anthony Hopkins as Hitch

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