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After years in development limbo, the much anticipated biopic Hitchcock has finally found its way to cinemas. Directed by Sacha Gervasi, it depicts the circumstances surrounding Alfred Hitchcock’s experience making the film Psycho.

Opening with the director in the throes of success following the release of North by Northwest, a confident but unsatisfied Hitchcock (Anthony Hopkins) sets out to find a project which will rekindle his love of filmmaking. Aided by his wife and primary artistic collaborator Alma Reville (Helen Mirren), he commissions a script based on the gruesome Robert Bloch novel.

It’s easy to forget just how innovative and shocking Psycho was by the standards of 1960, as it contained levels of violence and sexuality rarely seen in Hollywood films before. Hitchcock is at its best when it focuses on the challenges faced by the director in convincing skeptical studio executives and censors to approve its release.

Less successful is the subplot revolving around tensions within the Hitchcock marriage, primarily brought about by Hitch’s intense interest in his attractive leading ladies. Presumably it was included to add a greater sense of drama to the film, it instead is emblematic of the tendency of many biopics to devote too much time to the minutiae of its subject’s personal life.

Hopkins does an impressive Hitchock impersonation, and Scarlett Johansson is also perfectly cast as Janet Leigh. Cinephiles should appreciate the coded references to Hitchcock’s career, and everyone else will no doubt enjoy watching talented and experienced actors such as Hopkins and Mirren getting the chance to interact within the same frame.

Hitchcock is now in general release.

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