Fox Searchlight’s Hitchcock is quite the interesting story. While it would be so easy for some to attempt to call this largely independent film a glorified biopic, it is anything but. It is in fact one more movie adapted from the written word. It has been adapted from the book, Alfred Hitchcock and the Making of Psycho. Author Stephen Rubello’s book is a nonfiction work. It’s one thing to try to adapt a fiction work to the big screen. It’s a whole other task to try to translate an author’s work from a nonfiction into a near two hour movie that will be accepted by both uninitiated audiences and those more “experienced” Hitchcock devotees. That has already been evidenced in the likes of Public Enemies. The original book on which it was based is an excellent read. But the big screen take on that story hardly translated. So the question remains, where does Hitchcock get things right where other historically based movies adapted from nonfiction books get it wrong?
Despite what apparently many critics and audiences had expected of this movie, it is not just another standard biopic. Rather it is the story of how the famed director made his now legendary cinema classic. It examines not just how he made the movie, but how the movie made him. Audiences see in this story, the impact that making Psycho had on his marriage, too. In simple terms, this adaptation of Rubello’s book is less a history lesson and more a romance. It portrays a couple that is nearly torn apart as each becomes wrapped up in their own personal projects before each reach a revelatory point that brings them back together. This, in turn, leads the husband and wife team to finish Hitchcock’s masterpiece that remains one of horror’s best ever.
Audiences are instantly pulled into this movie as Hopkins introduces the story exactly as the real life Hitchcock had done in his classic TV series, Alfred Hitchcock Presents. This homage to Hitchcock history is enough to generate some laughs and applause from those who remember the classic program. From there, the combination of the movie’s sets and costumes work together to keep audiences fully engaged in the story, as they strive to keep the story as historically accurate as possible. Also worth noting here is the inclusion of facts about how studios and censors operated in the days of Psycho. This was one of the hurdles which Hitchcock had to face in bringing his movie to the masses. While the process of bringing Psycho to theaters may or may not have played out exactly as portrayed in this movie, it will still keep audiences engaged. And seeing him overcome everything thrown out at him, audiences will cheer at his success. That cheering will continue right to the story’s end. The reason behind that will be left to those who have yet to see the movie. But any viewer that knows anything of Hitchcock history will appreciate it, and will in turn be left agreeing that this turns out to be a movie worth having seen at least once.