Released shortly after the TV drama The Girl, in which canonised director Alfred Hitchcock is portrayed as little more than a sadistic lech, this more agreeably comic portrayal acts as a salve, if little else.
Under a mound of make-up, Anthony Hopkins gleefully plays the man as a stubborn, lugubriously wisecracking old teddy bear whose worst crimes are overeating and petty jealousy. But the film runs no deeper than that.
Screenwriter John McLaughlin is surer on the making of Psycho – Hitch’s belligerent reaction to the success of North by Northwest, self-financed because of studio disinterest and an unhelpful censor – than the unconvincing love-triangle involving Mrs Hitchcock, Alma Reville (a miscast Helen Mirren) and Strangers on a Trainadapter Whitfield Cook (Danny Huston).
Sacha Gervasi, making his narrative directorial debut after rockumentary Anvil: The Story of Anvil, struggles to bind the two strands to a misjudged fantasy element in which real-life serial killer Ed Gein becomes Hitchcock’s ghoulish confidant.
Despite amusing moments and a sprinkling of catnip for film buffs, Hitchcock is disappointingly inconsequential.