"Good evening, I'm Anthony Hopkins in a fat suit." Yeah, now that I think about it, good ol' Phil doesn't look too much like the definitive Master of Suspense, but hey, he still looks like Alfred Hitchcock more than he looks like Nixon (I like that film and, oh man, Hopkins was phenomenal in it, but outside of that, what was Oliver Stone thinking? Shoot, what does he ever think?), and for that matter, he looks more like Hitchcock than Toby Jones looks like Hitchcock. Man, we've got "Mirror Mirror" and "Snow White and the Huntsman", "Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter" and "Lincoln", and now, we've got "The Girl" and this film, so 2012 is pretty much the year of two films that follow the same subject matter, but in a different tonal fashion, because where "The Girl", like "The Huntsman" and "Lincoln", was the more serious Hitchcock biopic, this film, like "Mirror Mirror" and "Vampire Hunter", is much less serious, and I can't say that I'm surprised, because if you can't be lighthearted in your portrayal of the making of the delightfully cute, family film classic, "Psycho", then just what in the world are you gonna do? Jokes aside, I don't think I would ever take this film's portrayal of Hitchcock's on-set sexual harassment, because, come on, he's gawking at Scarlett Johansson, and as much as Helen Mirren is keeping up the physique at, like, 166, quite frankly, can you even begin to blame Hitch? Shame we don't see more of her in this film, and I'm not just referring to the shower scene... entirely, even though it is thrillingly suspenseful something fierce, much like the actual shower scene in "Psycho", though for a much different reason. Of course, if you're ga-I mean, if you want more traditional horror suspense out of this film, fear not, or, well, be very fearful, because Danny Huston is in this film, and he'll have you on the edge of your seat, wondering how they're going to crowbar in his being evil. Sadly, the suspense goes squandered when it turns out that Huston isn't playing a villain, which isn't to say that suspense is the only thing squandered in this film, which is entertaining, well-acted and all, but not quite the "good evening" at the movies that I was hoping for.
As notoriously dark as Alfred Hitchcock's tastes were, particularly with the film whose production moves this film's plot along, Hitchcock made for quite the charisma that was both restrained and colorful, and with this film being as inconsequential as it is, as well as, to some degree, faithful as it is to the essence of the legendary filmmaker who stands at the focal center, it all but has no choice to celebrate the more colorful side to Hitchcock's identity, which certainly makes this film reasonably fun, but is lacking in the restraint that Hitchcock's charisma had, never getting to be too overly playful, but sometimes fluffy to the point of being rather cheesy. Of course, as fluffy as this film is on the whole, there are, in fact, occasions in which the film slips into more relatively serious territories, even going so far as to occasionally incorporate Ed Gein, portrayed very well by Michael Wincott, for, like, no really good reason at all, sometimes within dramatizations of demonstrations of his insanity, and touches such as these are just fine and all, adding a bit more color to this already pretty colorful film, but they would be more commendable if they didn't feel somewhat forced, because even though the film isn't quite as all over the place with its tone as it could have been, tonal inconsistency is much too difficult to deny. Again, the film's tonal dynamicity isn't terribly inorganic, but whether it be because the lighter moments that claim most of this film are too light, or because the relatively less playful moments suddenly drop fluffiness too sharply, the layers to this film's atmosphere get to be too dynamic for the film's own good, and, well, I kind of wish I could say that about this film's plot structure dynamicity. The film isn't monotonously structured, or if it is, then there is enough entertainment value to compensate, but really, not too much considerable progress is made in this film, which may only be about 100 minutes, but still finds itself a bit too padded by repetitious filler, something that is hard to fully detect in a film this inconsequential, but pronounced enough for nothingness to help this film in getting to be too fatty around the edges, when it honestly could have made runtime ends meet with more depth. Again, this film is a colorful meditation upon the life of a colorful man who just happened to have disturbing tastes, so lord knows that I'm not expecting too much depth from this semi-biopic, but I can't help but feel as though this film is all too often too superficial for its own good, crafting few layers to fascinating classic figures who drive this character study, and making the final product too lighthearted for you to stand a chance of ignoring other missteps. Even for a fluff piece, this film doesn't have as much meat to it as it probably should, for although I don't mind this film's being about a mere colorful chapter in the life of a highly recognizable man, and with this film's being so lightweight calling your attention more to many a hiccup in plotting, the final product comes out kind of disappointing. I don't know what I was expecting out of this film, but I do know that I was expecting a bit more than what I got, which isn't to say that I mind all that much, because what I did, in fact, get was a very entertaining film that could have hit harder, but nevertheless proves to be enjoyable, as well as commendable in terms of visual style, though not quite as much as I was expecting.
I don't know if it's because he knows how to play with David Fincher's exuberant tastes in visual style, or simply because he knows how to make a film look darn good, but Jeff Cronenweth might very well be among today's great cinematographers, so of course I was expecting this film to, at the very least, look fabulous, which should tell how held back this film is when it comes to the journey to potential achievement, as Cronenweth is all but entirely stripped on his distinctly stunning tastes in photographic artistry, which likely would have been retained if this film was, for whatever reason, taken on by the greatest director alive (Oh, shoot, now I want to see David Fincher remake "Psycho", but then again, I want to see David Fincher remake every likable film, at least more than Gus Van Sant), but aren't entirely gone, for although Cronenweth's lighter cinematographic efforts aren't nearly as impressive as his more gritty work, imagery bounces near-lushly in this film, thanks to Cronenweth's fine plays with coloring, lighting and even shot staging. The film's visual style catches your eyes, while its musical companion catches your ears, because although Danny Elfman's score work for this film fails to be all that refreshing, or even hit all that hard in the first place, we're still talking about Danny Elfman here, so of course we get some lively tunes that breathe quite a bit of life into this film's atmosphere, while this film's world finds life breathed into it by commendable production value that isn't too upstanding, but still sells you on anything, from the restoration of late '50s Hollywood to the flawed, but descent makeup effects, enough for you to slip into this film's setting reasonably comfortably. The film doesn't accel too thoroughly when it comes to style and technicality, but there is enough competence behind the supplementation of this film's fluff to help the final product in getting by as quite entertaining, and I emphasize, "help", as this film offers plenty of entertainment value in its substance, alone. Once more, you shouldn't go into this film expecting its exploration of a notable slice of the life of a legend to be thoroughly serious, because this isn't that kind of a film, being not much more than a piece of filler, plain and simple, and while I do hope to see a serious take on the life of Al Hitchcock some day, I accept this film's fluffiness, no matter how many times it hits a consequential shortcoming to go with the more natural shortcomings, largely thanks to this subject matter's being quite colorful and interesting, boasting a fair bit of potential for entertainment value whose being brought to life much more often than not is largely due to the efforts of John J. McLaughlin. McLauglin's script is too superficial for its own good, as well as rather uneven and repetitious, yet McLauglin sustains your attention adequately through sharply witty dialogue and humor that is nothing short of amusing, as well as through lively characterization, brought to life by Sacha Gervasi's storytelling, which is all too often problematic, but still does a lot to power the enjoyability of this fluff piece, delivering on enough atmospheric liveliness - complimented by a strong capturing of the dazzle of Hollywood, circa 1959 - to make the film, if nothing else, very charming. Such charm goes augmented by a myriad of charismatic performances by this film's committed and star-studded cast (I don't know what's more shocking, the fact that Ralph Macchio is still alive or the fact that it took the Karate Kid forever-and-half to fully hit puberty), from which our leads Anthony Hopkins and Helen Mirren stand out, being not as strong as I was hoping they would be, but still rich with enough chemistry, charm and inspiration for them to convince you on their being the film legends that they are. Even as a fluff piece, this film could have been more, and maybe should have been more, but it is what it is, and what it is is, well, actually pretty fun, with very little consequence and full reward value, but enough style, charm and all around entertainment value for you to walk away having had a pretty good time, even if the film itself isn't truly all that good.
At the end of this good evening, or bad evening, or whatever kind of evening you're having (How are the kids?), you're left with a film that is with plenty of cheesy spots, broken up by some jarring tonal shifts that throw you off a bit, yet don't place enough dynamicity into this film's storytelling to fully battle back repetition, which, alongside a bit too much superficiality, pronounce the natural shortcomings of this film just enough to make an underwhelming final product, but one that still gets by as decent, being handsomely shot, with decent score work and commendable production value that compliment this film's interesting subject matter, which brought to life enough in John J. McLaughlin's witty script, Sacha Gervasi's lively direction and more than a few charming performances - the most charismatic of which being by leads Anthony Hopkins and Helen Mirren - for "Hitchcock" to ultimately stand as a thoroughly entertaining, if a bit too inconsequential study on the casual and professional life of the late, great Master of Suspsense, regardless of its many shortcomings, both natural and consequential.
2.5/5 - Fair