This film opens as if it were an episode of Hitchcock’s short-lived television series, 'Alfred Hitchcock Presents'. Hitchcock (Anthony Hopkins) talks directly to camera as he delivers a prologue to set the scene. Hopkins delivers a wonderful performance - his physique, bulk and over-deliberative intonation present a wonderful derivative Hitchcock - more the legend than seeking an accurate representation.
The film is about the making of Hitchcock's greatest film - Psycho released in 1960. It almost didn't get made - Hitchcock had to self-finance, fight the studios and the Censor. As much as the film is about the making of Psycho it is more about the relationship between Hitch and his wife - Alma Reville strongly played by Helen Mirren.
This film seeks to entertain rather than inform and is a bit tongue-in-cheek. Rather than a straight portrayal of the making of the film, every now and again the narrative departs into a dialogue between Hitch and Ed Gein - the Wisconsin farmer who was the serial killer that served as the inspiration for Robert Bloch's character Norman Bates in his novel on which the film Psycho, was based. Through this dialogue, Hitchcock deals with his own demons and delusions, his obsessions with his blonde leading ladies and tensions with his wife Alma. It's a little odd - but definitely Hitchcockian.
There are more strong performances from Scarlett Johansson as Janet Leigh, James D'Arcy as a very camp and conflicted Anthony Perkins and Toni Collette as Hitchcock's long-suffering secretary Peggy Robertson. The film exposes the control of 'The Studios" and demonstrates how far 'censorship' has come in 50 years. Where will it be in 50 years time?
Hitchcock die-hards will probably feel a little cheated by this film as some of the details won't be 100% accurate - but this is not a history lesson, it's entertainment - this is Hollywood. If you want some gentle entertainment with good acting then this will do very nicely. If you want the Hitchcock experience then get hold of a copy of Psycho, a nice strong drink and allow yourself to be challenged, surprised and scared all at the same time. I'll give it 7/10.