Film: ‘Hitchcock’ (2012)

Fox Searchlight

In “Hitchcock,” which recounts the legendary director’s fascination with the subject matter that would become his movie “Psycho,” the adage “Behind every great man there’s a great woman” comes at you like that knife in the iconic shower scene.

Alfred Hitchcock, portrayed by Anthony Hopkins in Sacha Gervasi’s film, turned “great” into a multi-hyphenate vocation. He was massive in girth, with huge appetites – for both foie gras he consumed right out of the can and good-looking blond actresses. And, although he was often reviled and marginalized in Hollywood, he was also exceptional at creating a cinematic vision that would withstand the test of time.

Hopkins’s rendition of the Hitchcock caricature – he has great fun with his character’s fishy pursed lips and quippy line deliveries – provides the comedic sizzle. The steak is the movie’s uncompromised look at a different role – the one played by his professionally talented long-suffering wife and movie-business partner Alma Reville (Helen Mirren) who helped him achieve his elevated status. (In the movie, it’s Alma who suggests her husband kill off Janet Leigh’s Marion Crane 30 minutes into the film.)

“Hitchcock”’s delineation of the characters’ relationships is telling. Astrologically, marriage, which entails commitment, requires as much Saturnine stickiness as Venusian love and affection. Although Alf and Alma’s marriage in the movie seems to inhabit a sex-free friendship-only zone, Hitch projected his sexual fantasies of the ideal woman – Neptune and Venus – onto his young, golden-maned female stars.

As for those the actresses who worked under Hitch, Janet Leigh (Scarlett Johansson) is shown to have remained likably cool (Saturn) to her director’s innuendos. On the other hand, Vera Miles (Jessica Biel) incurred Hitch’s wrath when she chose to use her feminine side as a mother (Moon), thereby bringing to a dead halt Hitch’s momentum to turn her into a big star.

That leaves Alma. Her Saturnine non-nonsense approach to their collegial marriage also contains a hefty dose of the Lunar. Like the Good Mother, she’s true to her name (which means “loving and nurturing” in Latin) by pandering to the childish whims of her man. Nevertheless, Hitch spends a good portion of the movie suspecting she’s having an affair with one of her male friends whose work she’s helping revise.

Alma gets her acknowledgment in the end. But sharing his limelight was no picnic. After all, the movie is titled, simply, “Hitchcock.”

Rating: ♀♄ and ♀♆ (Venus/Saturn and Venus/Neptune)

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