The thing about biopics is that trust in the storyteller is 100% key. The thing about Hitchcock is that from frame one there is zero trust. The characterization of famed director Alfred Hitchcock is so helpless and buffoonish that you can’t help but question where the filmmakers got their information, particularly when considering the notoriously private nature of the man himself. Yes Hitchcock had a reputation for womanizing (ahem, Tippie Hedren) but the creepy secret-photos-of-blonds-tucked-around-the-room type of womanizing on display in the film is just one lascivious ingredient of the film that causes the whole thing to reek of rumor.
Hitchcock, based off a Stephen Rebello book, centers on the making of the iconic film Psycho. The man himself is played by an ever-effective Anthony Hopkins, though make up and prosthetics only make him recognizable every now and again through a glint in the eyes. The film opens with Hopkins as Hitchcock speaking directly to the camera, just as Hitchcock himself did on his television program Alfred Hitchcock Presents – while the opening tilts toward fun, only a few moments have to go by to realize there will be no joy in this storytelling.
Rather than making the film the romp it could have been, Hitchcock zeros in on a list of caricatured Hitchcockian characteristics it chooses to make the film about – Hitchcock the lecher, the booze-hound, the midnight binge eater. The fact that he was a brilliant director is a near after-thought, and if the audience is to take Hitchcock at face value, even his directing credits are mired in sin. Hitchcock suggests that without his wife Alma (a solid but under-challenged Helen Mirren) none of Hitchcock's films would have even toed the line of brilliance. Alma’s influence on her husband’s work is an understood truth, but this film creates a narrative that suggests she was the mastermind behind the career of a figurehead and was responsible for his film's most iconic moments – including Psycho’s definitive shower scene.
The Hitchcock-Alma storyline is the heart of the film, but there exist other unnecessary – and truly befuddling – storylines. For one, Alma’s pseudo-romance with a burgeoning screenwriter. There is also an entirely incomprehensible plot line that – at best guess – involves the relationship Hitchcock is having (in his mind) with serial killer Ed Gein.
That Scarlett Johansson and Jessica Biel also star in this movie is almost a complete after-thought, there is already too much to think about. For example, did Hitchcock really spend 50% of his real-life time casually standing in iconic profile? At times Hitchcock is fun, in an eye-roll kind of way; but predominantly it is deceptive — a bending of the truth that has the sting of jealousy and the murmer of the rumor mill.