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//// Writer: John J. McLaughlin, Stephen Rebello
//// Director: Sacha Gervasi
//// Cast: Anthony Hopkins, Helen Mirren

Still from Hitchcock
Jan 9th 2013 | Guy Davis
Alfred Hitchcock was an interesting cat, a meticulous craftsman of cinema whose personal obsessions and desires bled into his films, making them irresistible combinations of technical virtuosity and psychological murkiness. More often than not, however, true-life tales of even the most accomplished artists can be a bit of a drag – educational and even enlightening at times but not necessarily entertaining. So how does Hitchcock, Sacha Gervasi's look at the filmmaker's efforts to make 1960's Psycho – one of the most controversial works of his storied career – end up faring? Not that bad, it must be said, provided you're after a mildly diverting story of 'old Hollywood' and not an in-depth depiction of Hitch's motivations and modus operandi. Transformed into a fair approximation of the jowly, rotund Hitchcock with the aid of prosthetics and the like (one hopes!), Anthony Hopkins captures the intimidating presence of the man as he uses his caustic wit, formidable intelligence and carefully-constructed persona to get Robert Bloch's 'unfilmable' novel from the page to the screen against conservative Hollywood's objections. Helen Mirren is every bit Hopkins' equal as Alma Reville, Hitch's wife and closest collaborator who was reportedly every bit his equal. Their droll repartee and the odd sparkling moment provided by a great cast (Toni Collette! Danny Huston! Michael freakin' Wincott as Ed Gein, the nutter who provided the inspiration for Psycho's psycho Norman Bates!), gives Hitchcock a wry charm that elevates it beyond the standard biopic.

In cinemas Thursday 10 January

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