Alfred Hitchcock became an accomplished and successful filmmaker for his creative directing shots and for screenplays with O. Henry-esque surprise endings. It's unlikely the writers and director of the newly-released film about Alfred Hitchcock would have guessed that for contemporary audiences, their creation would have contained a surprise ending message of its own.
The movie opens with a reminder of Hitchcock's quirky humor, and then leads directly to the 1959 opening of "North by Northwest," which was filmed partially on location at Chicago train station. With North by Northwest such a cinematic hit, the 60 year old director was challenged to outdo himself once again by taking on a daring thriller based on the book "Psycho."
Hitchcock faced one obstacle after another during the production. Unable to obtain funding through traditional means, he and his wife Alma mortgaged their home. Mid-50s censors made the "Psycho" shower scene especially challenging to produce. But with the persistant encouragement and assistance of Alma - who was a brilliant editor, screenwriter and director in her own right - the Hitchcocks prevailed. Psycho was a smash hit in its day.
The 2012 bio of the Hitchcocks is wonderfully brought to life by two Oscar winners - Anthony Hopkins (Silence of the Lambs) and Helen Mirren (The Queen). Scarlett Johannssen played the enchanting Janet Leigh and Jessica Biel an understated Vera Miles. They're all brought together under the direction of Sacha Gervasi.
The film gives a behind-the-scenes look into the Hitchcocks' marriage, which was the unglorified foundation for Alfred's creative success. Director Gervasi also deepens character development with peeks into Hitchcock's inner torments, such as his obsession for beautiful blonde actresses and his imaginary relationship with the center character of Psycho, Wisconsin killer Ed Gein. But, one concludes, who doesn't have quirks?
The story teaches Hitchcock and Alma's enduring love was based on the respect the two had for each other's talents, the knowledge they each had of their partner's weaknesses and strengths, and their realization that their partnership was irreplaceable, despite all its challenges.
Who would have ever thought that a biography about a trend-setting thriller maker in an immoral culture like Hollywood would climax with him and his wife staying devoted to each other for 54 years, until Alfred died in 1980? Indeed, that's the spoiler alert of "Hitchcock's" own surprise happy ending.
Already a nominated for a Golden Globe, It's worth holiday viewing for moms and dads. Leave the kids at home. They just wouldn't get the point of the film. Someday they will.