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Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Hopkins goes Psycho in 'Hitchcock'

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Helen Mirren portrays Alma Reville, the wife of director Alfred Hitchcock (Anthony Hopkins), in the new film "Hitchcock."
Over the years, many stars have changed their physical appearance and earned rave reviews in doing so. Robert DeNiro bulked up for "Raging Bull" and won an Oscar.

Hollywood beauty Charlize Theron gained weight, tossed in some oversized chompers and also walked away with an Oscar for "Monster."

While you won't see Anthony Hopkins' name among this year's nominees for the 85th Annual Academy Awards, he gave one of 2012's better performances and was hardly recognizable in doing so.

Hopkins, who recently dropped a whopping 75 pounds, took on the role of legendary director and larger-than-life personality Alfred Hitchcock. Instead of opting for the traditional route of going "method" and packing the pounds back on, Hopkins donned a special suit and fancy makeup to become an almost dead-ringer for Hitchcock.

Instead of dissecting the director and the movies throughout his career, "Hitchcock" focuses on Hitchcock's obsession to bring something bigger and better to the screen after his successful film "North by Northwest." While most in Hollywood was content with old Hitch' doing the same thing, the director himself longed for something more.

And he found his inspiration in Robert Bloch's novel "Psycho" based on the grisly crimes of notorious serial murderer Ed Gein.

Instead of embracing Hitchcock's idea, his colleagues try to convince the director to pursue other ideas, but he is undeterred. After the studio balks at funding the project, Hitchcock pulls out his checkbook and decides to finance the picture himself.

Intent on regaining the artistic vision of his younger years, Hitchcock puts everything he has into "Psycho" and the rest is history. His passion spills over into ever aspect of the making of the film and in the process helps create the masterpiece to which all horror movies are measured.

The film also delves into the unique relationship Hitch had with his wife and artistic confidant Alma (Helen Mirren), who stood by his side throughout all of his famous films.

The amazing aspect of "Hitchcock" is it shows that even though he was a bonafide legend in the business, Hitchcock's feelings of being a failure plagued him late in his career. Unlike today when stars bounce between movies and television (yeah, I'm talking about you, James Franco), back in Hitchcock's day, a stint on television after a big screen career was a sign of failure.

Hopkins is amazing as Hitchcock. He captures the director's mannerisms and gives us a glimpse of the man behind the legend. Mirren is strong as Hitch's wife Alma and brings a powerhouse performance, to balance Hopkins presence.

The film also features Scarlett Johansson as Janet Leigh and James D'Arcy as Anthony Perkins. Johansson is convincable as Leigh, but I wasn't a fan of D'Arcy as Perkins. His performance bounced between cardboard stiff to being hollow and detached. Even though Perkins was an odd fellow, D'Arcy misses the target completely

Director Sacha Gervasi serves up a quirky style of telling of Hitchcock's journey while making "Psycho." The style made the film feel fresh and very intimate at times. While many didn't see the film, it was without a doubt one of the best of 2012 in big part to Hopkins and Mirren.

Final Cut: "Hitchcock" pulls back the veil and shows the inner works of the legendary director. With horror films abound in this age of cinema, Hitchcock took a gamble on "Psycho" and showed that horror can not only be scary -- it can be a masterpiece.

4.5 out of 5 stars


Starring: Anthony Hopkins, Helen Mirren, Scarlett Johansson, James D'Arcy, Toni Collette, Danny Huston, Jessica Biel, Ralph Macchio.

Director: Sacha Gervasi

Writer: John J. McLaughlin.

Run time: 98 minutes.

MPAA Rating: PG-13 for some violent images, sexual content and thematic materials.