While 2012's TV movie The Girl followed Alfred Hitchcock's reportedly obsessive relationship with the actress Tippi Hedren during the filming of The Birds (as played by Toby Jones and Sienna Miller), this biopic has Anthony Hopkins donning the padded bodysuit and jowly make-up to play Hitch, and focuses more on his relationship with his wife, Alma Reville (Helen Mirren, rather sexier than the real Alma) and his determination to get the film Psycho made in 1959.
The first dramatic film from director Sacha Gervasi (he previously made the documentary Anvil: The Story of Anvil), this is an adaptation of Stephen Rebello's book Hitchcock and the Making of Psycho, so is filled with interesting industry titbits about the production of the film, such as Hitchcock buying up all the copies of Robert Bloch's source novel so people wouldn't find out the ending. Unfortunately, it's also liberally sprinkled with lots of cliches about Hitchcock, from his love of blondes to his bullying of his crew and his reliance on Alma that don't add any depth or understanding to a man who was a genius behind the camera even when he was often unbearable away from it.
There's also the odd use of Hitch's "visions" of Ed Gein (the murderous inspiration for Psycho's Norman Bates and Leatherface from The Texas Chain Saw Massacre), whom he chats to during the making of the movie, that detract rather than add depth to Hopkins' portrayal of the director. Anyone wanting to learn about the real Hitchcock will be disappointed - although Hopkins does get a gold star for a tongue-in-cheek impersonation of Alfred, and there are some nice (fictional) moments between him and Alma - because this film doesn't really offer anything fresh or complex. It's a shame, because a director who was infuriating, supremely focused and even fun surely deserves a biopic as fascinating as his own movies.