Blu-ray Review: ‘Hitchcock’

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Blu-ray Review: ‘Hitchcock’
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Movie poster for "Hitchcock"

"Hitchcock" releases on a two-disc combo pack housing the film's Blu-ray, DVD, UV, and iTunes digital copies. This 2012 biographical picture of Alfred Hitchcock is adapted from Stephen Rebello's non-fiction book "Alfred Hitchcock and the Making of Psycho." Helmed by narrative feature newcomer Sacha Gervasi, this biopic follows a short stretch of the Hollywood legend's life following the premiere of "North by Northwest." It dramatizes the period when he discovers Robert Bloch's horror novel "Psycho," which is based on the real-life serial killer Ed Gein. With no studio willing to invest for his "Psycho" screen adaptation, he mortgages his home, battles studio executives, and risks his reputation and even the love of his wife -- just to fund his obsession.

This motion picture combines drama and comedy in attempting to demystify the man behind the legendary horror and suspense opuses. The story plays around the mostly fictional domestic tension between him and his wife and how such a master craftsman already at the top of his game can nearly stumble over his self-doubt, inner demons, and unhealthy lifestyle. The film stars Anthony Hopkins, Helen Mirren, Scarlett Johansson, Jessica Biel, Michael Stuhlbarg, and Toni Collette.

Visuals

Compared to the noir look of a number of Hitchcock works, this offering primarily showcases warm and dense colors, sumptuously bright textures, deep shadows, and nostalgia-tinged highlights. From the naturally cream and earthy tones inside and outside the residence of this erudite Master of Suspense to the boldly lit spaces in the production sequences' studio locations, the picture boasts many wonderfully cinematic compositions. The Blu-ray transfer looks equally strong as the theatrical release with no traces of compression artifacts and other visual anomalies to note.

Audio

The package sports a five-channel lossless track, as well as five-channel surround options in Spanish and French. The sound design is somewhat limited by the fact that the film is a fairly quiet dramatic piece. Yet, the front-heavy mix offers adequate natural ambience and well-prioritized dialogue throughout. The orchestral score, along with some occasional aggressive moments, helps show off the presentation's wide dynamic range and decently functional surrounds.

Supplements

This Blu-ray edition comes out with a couple of supplements including an audio commentary with Sacha Gervasi and Stephen Rebello, a deleted scene with Hitch on the couch talking to his psychotic psychologist, an extensive making-of documentary entitled "Obsessed with Hitchcock," the Anthony Hopkins featurette "Becoming the Master: From Hopkins to Hitchcock," the behind-the-scene featurette "Sacha Gervasi's Behind-the-Scenes Cell Phone Footage," the "Hitchcock Cell Phone PSA" that serves as a public service announcement for not texting inside the cinema, the Hitchcock couple featurette "Hitch and Alma," the short Hitchcock retrospective from former co-workers in "Remembering Hitchcock," the production featurettes "The Story," "The Cast," and "Danny Elfman Maestro," and the film's theatrical trailer. The disc also offers subtitle options in English SDH and Spanish.

Final Thoughts

"Hitchcock" wants to get inside the director's head, but it doesn't ultimately succeed in doing so. Its ironically lightweight treatment undercuts Hitchcock's dark, enigmatic profile. Moreover, the way this mixed bag handles his somewhat forced conversations and nightmares with Ed Gein tends to pull the audience away from the story's core drama. Nevertheless, what the film lacks in psychological substance, it makes up for being a well-adorned period piece full of fine performances and entertaining references to the consummate cinema artist's career.

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