Directed By: Sacha Gervasi

Starring: Anthony Hopkins, Helen Mirren, Scarlett Johansson, Toni Collette, Danny Huston, Jessica Biel, and James D'Arcy

Last year, the awards season was dominated by movies about making movies. All the buzz was about films like The Artist, Hugo, and My Week with Marilyn.  Hollywood apparently missed one because they've decided to do a biopic on the legendary Master of Suspense Alfred Hitchcock and the making of Psycho, one of the defining films of his career.  Given the massive enduring popularity of Psycho and the fact that Hitch is one of the most famous directors of all time, this is a big one to tackle.

After the success of his film North by Northwest, director Alfred Hitchcock (Anthony Hopkins) is in search of a new project.  Though people within Hollywood have their own ideas of what they would like Hitch to do, he completely disagrees.  He's looking to further explore his craft and give audiences something different.  He consults with his wife, film editor and screenwriter Alma Reville (Helen Mirren) as he does in all things to get her opinion.  He also consults with his manager Lew Wasserman (Michael Stuhberg).  None of this is to any avail though as he cannot figure out what's next for him.  Hitchcock stumbles upon the book Psycho by Robert Bloch on real-life murderer Ed Gein (Michael Wincott).  As he gets into the mind of this sick murderer, Hitch decides that Psycho will be his next picture.  With this, Norman Bates is born. 

While the press sees Psycho as a horror film beneath the beloved filmmaker and Paramount president Barney Balaban (Richard Portnow) is totally against it, Hitchcock sees it as a creative risk that will help him feel innovative again.  With every roadblock imaginable in the way, Hitch must personally finance the production by mortgaging his house.  There is one silver lining though.  He's found his leading lady in actress Janet Leigh (Scarlett Johannson).  He's also casting Vera Miles (Jessica Biel) and Anthony Perkins (James D'Arcy) in starring roles in the movie.  Meanwhile, Alma is working on a screenplay with screenwriter Whitfield Cook (Danny Huston), which is causing some tension in her marriage with Hitch.

Hitchcock is a charming, playful little film that brings this larger-than-life legend down to earth.  Director Sacha Gervasi does so by focusing on his marriage to Alma Reville and some of the minutiae in their daily lives.  He does so by showing Hitchcock's love for cocktails and his struggles with the strict diet on which Alma has put him.  He even tackles the more tense subjects in their marriage such as Hitchcock's fantasy romances with his blonde leading ladies and Alma's "fun" time working with Whit Cook.  All of this helps personalize the man watching in the corner with a camera and adds a human layer to the film that goes beyond the production set.

Sir Anthony Hopkins is the ideal choice to portray Alfred Hitchcock, and he shows us just why throughout the film.  A bit of a suspense icon himself, Hopkins expertly brings a certain mystique to the character of Hitchcock and turns him into a somewhat creepy man watching with a camera.  As film editor Alma Reville, Helen Mirren brings an understated strength to the film.  She really captures the struggle of being the wife of a famous director and is the one performer in the cast who can go toe-to-toe with Hopkins on screen.

Beyond bringing Alfred Hitchcock and Alma Reville back to life, Gervasi has to recreate the magic of Psycho all over again.  In terms of the making of this iconic suspense thriller, Gervasi hits the mark just right.  The casting, makeup, and set design are emblematic of the era and Psycho itself.  What really stands out though are the scenes that Gervasi chooses to recreate and how Hitchcock creates the fear on set even before he does it on screen.  When Marion Crane is driving down the highway toward the Bates Motel for instance, she's left to her own devices and the voices in her head.  Janet Leigh does not have this on set, so Hitch becomes those voices in her head.  He verbally abuses this woman to get her to look terrified of her character’s situation on camera.  Hitchcock gets a little more physical in the filming of the shower scene when he picks up a knife and just starts slashing away at Leigh.

The cast members portraying Psycho actors also add quite a bit to Hitchcock.  Scarlett Johansson is perfect to play Janet Leigh because she's one of the most beautiful women in the world.  She does a great job playing the leading lady of Psycho and really captures her essence.  The same can be said for Jessica Biel's performance as Vera Miles.  The real standout among the actors portraying Psycho cast members is James D'Arcy as Anthony Perkins.  He really channels the late horror icon.  He not only looks and acts like Perkins.  He does something that no other cast members accomplish with their characters and actually sounds like Perkins.  If I were listening to him with no video, he might have fooled me into thinking he was actually the original Norman Bates.

Hitchcock is a well-done period piece that captures the essence of Psycho.  There's plenty of fear, laughter, romance, and drama in this flick.  It's good entertainment all around.  Since Hitchcock clearly has a love for the good stuff, I should recommend a cocktail.  However, whatever I recommend would be a little too strong for this movie.  Hitchcock gets a 0.03% rating.  Have a few wine coolers with this one.  Don't watch this without having dabbled in a few Hitchcock films.