This film is a bio-pic, a drama about the personal life of the world-famous director, Alfred Hitchcock (played by Anthony Hopkins). It shows the time in the great director's career when his long-standing success as the "master of suspense" had not yet been firmly established, at least in the director's own mind. Even with the fantastic success of the film "North by Northwest" just achieved, Hitchcock puts enormous personal pressure on himself to do one better. Instead of taking on a easy project for his next film, he chooses instead the film "Psycho." Nowadays, it would seem that was brilliant choice, but in the time explored in this movie, when Hitchcock is actually making Psycho, it is not at all certain how it will turn out. Hitchcock has literally bet the house in terms of everything he owns on that one film's success.
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The making of this Hitchcock movie and the action on the movie set is really only the backdrop for exploring the deep love and affection held for him by Hitchcock's wife and creative/business partner Alma Reville (played by Helen Mirren). Her support for the great director is unfailing even when he does not deserve it. But she is not without fault as well. The pressures of making the Psycho film push the two of them apart. Hitchcock starts flirtations with his lead actress Janet Lee (played by Scarlett Johansson). Alma meets secretly with screenwriter Whitfield Cook (played by Danny Huston) for a supposed collaboration on a screenplay that the studio vastly prefers over Psycho. Alma works with Whitfield in his isolated beach house and there is obvious attraction developing between them. But like Hitchcock's flirtations with his lead actress, that only go as far as him peeping on her undressing through a hole the wall, neither Hitchcock or his wife completely cross the line to having a true sexual affair. Both know each other so well, so there is guilt mixed with accusation as they are aware that something is going on, but not exactly sure the full extent of it.
The studio refuses to support the film Psycho, so Hitchcock has to finance the film directly using all of his personal resources. Hitchcock also battles with the ratings board above their desire to have critical scenes cut from the film. Hitchcock and his wife become at odds over these pressures. Hitchcock has a break-down which results in the film not quite being as good as it could be and not completely finished. With Hitchcock ill from the effort, there is no one than can finish the film, except Alma. Alma steps in at the critical moment, gets the film project back on track, adds key elements, like an intense musical score, and makes the film really good. She does this all because she truly loves her husband and is willing to fight for him to prove it.
Still, the studio is so against the film that they only allow it to open in two theaters. Hitchcock uses this to his advantage and makes a huge publicity stunt out of it to enormous success. The result is cinema history.
Best part of story, including ending:
This film shows a side of Hitchcock we never knew, that he had the dedicated support of both his wife as his life partner and as his creative collaborative partner as well. She is the strong woman behind the famous man.
Best scene in story:
When Hitchcock delights in the audience reaction to his film, first by secretly watching them from the projection booth, then by listening to them scream at the film from the lobby. The theme of Psycho is voyeurism and the theme of this bio-pic is the same as well which really works creatively.
Opinion about the main character:
With all his eccentricities, Hitchcock recognizes that he could not have achieved what he did, without his wife Alma. This is very romantic and heartfelt.