Plot: What’s it about?
Of all the actors, directors, producers – heck anyone involved in the movie industry, there seems to be only a scant few that actually stand the test of time. If ever there was a man whose name was synonymous with Hollywood, it had to have been Alfred Hitchcock. From his television show Alfred Hitchcock Presents to his countless films, the man who was dubbed the “Master of Suspense” knew how to tell a story and keep the audience involved in a movie. His film, Rebecca, took home the Academy Award for Best Picture and though he himself never won an Oscar, the American Film Institute did honor him with a lifetime achievement award in 1979. It was well-deserved. Naturally if you’re going to do a movie about one of the greatest filmmakers of all-time (perhaps the greatest filmmaker), you’d better get it right. With Academy Award winners Anthony Hopkins and Helen Mirren as the leads, that’s a great start.
Hitchcock isn’t so much the biopic of the man, it’s more along the lines of “The Making of Vertigo.” We meet Hitchcock (Anthony Hopkins) as he’s coming off his latest success with North by Northwest. He owes Paramount one last movie and becomes somewhat obsessed with a novel with the name Psycho. Though he loves his wife (Helen Mirren), clearly there’s a spark missing and there’s a sub plot of a pseudo affair with Whitfield Cook (Danny Huston). The movie follows Hitchcock through the negotiations with Paramount, the casting of the movie and how Hitchcock was constantly pushing the envelope and doing battle with the ratings board. The ensemble cast includes some rather obscure, yet recognizable names like Ralph Macchio, Kurtwood Smith, Toni Collette and Jessica Biel.
If you’re looking for a biopic in the vein of J. Edgar or Lincoln then you’ll need to look elsewhere. This is merely a highlight of one of Hitchcock’s most beloved films and what it took to get the film made. Hopkins’ performance is good, not great, but good though I imagine taking on a legend like Alfred Hitchcock most be a very daunting task even for an actor of Hopkins’ status. Mirren turns in a great turn as Alma and Johansson does a fine job as Janet Leigh (another Hollywood immortal). About the closest thing that I can relate this to is a movie I saw quite some time ago entitled RKO 281 starring Liev Schreiber as a young Orson Welles and the battle to get Citizen Kane made. I feel that ultimately what Hitchcock does is make me want to dig through my collection and watch Rear Window, The Birds, Vertigo and Strangers on a Train (four of my personal favorite Hitchcock films). The performances are solid and if you’re a fan of the man, it’s worth a look for sure.
Video: How does it look?
Presented in the original aspect ratio of 2.40:1 the AVC HD image looks spectacular indeed. Obviously the movie is new to Blu-ray and this film, unlike those of Hitchcock’s, has the benefit of technology. The overall clarity of the image is just crystal clear. Detail is amazing, showcasing the wrinkles on Hitchcock’s face, the fine detail on the newspaper and the background visage of Paramount Studios. Contrast and black levels are strong and the bold color palette used looks amazing. Hitchcock’s trademark black suit shows no signs of any compression errors in the least. Save for a few softer scenes and one that had a bit of jarring, Hitchcock is nearly as good as they come.
Audio: How does it sound?
The DTS HD Master Audio soundtrack used sounds fairly decent. Certainly this isn’t a movie that’s made to light the room up but strong, bold vocals coupled with an adequate surround mix make for a very engaging mix, for sure. There is a moment at the end when Hitchcock is listening to the audience as they watch Psycho and the trademark music plays – it’s a nice effect. The credits give us the signature music from Alfred Hitchcock Presents which sounds nice as it resonates through the channels. Overall it’s a nice mix and a good effort here.
Supplements: What are the extras?
While not bursting at the gills with supplements, this does contain a nice little selection of extras, even if most are fluff. We start out with an audio commentary by director Sacha Gervasi and screenwriter Stephen Rebello. This is a pretty interesting track as the duo discuss the motivation for bringing this film to screen, the casting of Hopkins and his challenge to play Hitchcock as well as the very robust ensemble cast. “Becoming the Master: From Hopkins to Hitchcock” is just that, an interview with Sir Anthony Hopkins and his role as the iconic Alfred Hitchcock. A few smaller featurettes focus on the story, the cast and a look back at Hitchcock though one I particularly enjoyed was “Danny Elfman Maestro” since I’m a big Elfman fan and I really can’t imagine this in anyone else’s hands. Also featured is a deleted scene along with the original theatrical trailer. A DVD of the film is also included as is a Digital Copy for your portable device.