After the appalling & fraudulent character assassination last year that was "The Girl", I'd looked forward to seeing this biography in hopes it would redress the balance somewhat, & to some degree it does that, especially in its showing the long, devoted partnership between Hitch & his wife Alma.
It's hard not to compare the two films, & I have to say I think Toby Jones' Hitchcock was far more convincing than Anthony Hopkins here - Hopkins seems the wrong shape, even with all the prosthetics, & too old & wrinkly, where Hitch in real life looked like a man-sized baby pretty much to the grave. His accent, too, comes & goes wildly, never really convincing.
On the other hand, you get a far bigger budget, star-studded movie, whose point of existence is more than simply a feminist agenda depiction of male sexuality as repulsive & predatory. Which is nice.
AND you get to look at Scarlett Johannson a little, which can never be a bad thing.
I guess in an attempt to appeal to a wider female audience (well, they're no going to see it for Alfred Hitchcock's six-pack abs, now are they), the biggest part of the film is devoted to his wife Alma, here portrayed by Helen Mirren as the woman running the show, writing the scripts, mothering little Alfred & still finding time to contemplate an affair with a smarmy hack writer. You go, girl.
In real life, Alma was, it's true, Hitch's longest collaborator & closest confidant, but here she is given way too much credit & comes off - rather laughably - as the real genius while Hitchcock just bumbles around putting no more work into 'Psycho' than simply deciding to make it in the first place. And this is another of the major weak points, that the astonishing technical & artistic accomplishments of The Master in that classic don't factor into the story at ALL, which seems much more content to dwell on generic soap-opera plot devices than the achievements of one of the greatest of all cinema artists. Which is a pity, as surely it is the work of an artist that is the only reason any of us are interested in him in the first place. Correct? In this film, Hitchcock remains a mystery, & we feel no more empathy or understanding for him than in "The Girl". We don't really care anything about him or understand any of his actions - practically all of which are fictionalized anyway. It is Alma we care for & identify with, while Hitch is seemingly used as no more than a famous face, a recognizable brand name, a symbol of some kind, but for what we never learn.
In the end, this is a rather dull film, with nothing much to say & little skill employed in saying it. Because it has no interest or affection for either the artist or the man, it has to make up its screen time by dwelling on or inventing trivial matters to inflate for dramatic gain. Perhaps the most damning failure of all is simply this: that in a film about a man who created some of the most unforgettable images in all of cinema, there is not one single memorable shot of its own. One gets the feeling that once some Hollywood executive came up with the title, they felt it would simply 'write itself'. Unfortunately, it didn't.