There’s figuratively disappearing into a character, and then there’s literally, physically disappearing into a character. Anthony Hopkins achieved both admirably, as the title character in Hitchcock. The extensive makeup, including a formidable fat suit as well as face and head prosthetics, certainly enhanced the sleight of perception that turned slender, handsome Hopkins into the familiarly bald and rotund Hitchcock.

Hopkins’ celebrated talent is what kept the portrayal from becoming a parody that would do less than justice to the respected director. His careful use of Hitchcock’s mannerisms and distinctive cadence of speech are the crucial aspects of his performance that brought the fat suit to life. I did detect Anthony Hopkins’ voice beneath the layers of carefully constructed Hitchcock diction, but that’s probably due to the scores of his movies I’ve seen. It’s my understanding that Hopkins is a gifted mimic, and I think it would take that to capture what people expect Hitchcock to sound like so well. The entire presentation of a filmmaking icon struck me as very well done.

The only thing that really distracted me at all was occasionally wondering just how uncomfortable all that transformative makeup must have been.  When he’d lie on his back it looked as if he might collapse beneath his own weight, but it would have been even more uncomfortable for Hitchcock himself. At least for an actor such discomforts have a limited
lifespan.

Something I really loved from a writer’s point of view is that this movie captured the way intensely creative people often live with their characters, becoming in a sense profilers of the characters they struggle to bring to life. My favorite moment, though, was when he stood just outside the theater, anticipating the escalating waves of screams, and punctuating them with slashes of an imaginary knife. The manifestation of the sheer joy in connecting with an audience really hit the mark.

It was fascinating to see the extensive physicality of moviemaking back then. So much of the equipment looks positively ancient and primitive to our 21st century eyes, trained to expect a computer in every hand, every alphabetical from CGI to 3D, and green screen, blue screen, biggest screen of all.

The logistics and ingenuity required in Hitchcock’s world were daunting. And yet his genius created movie magic. One has to wonder what magic he would be wielding now, if he had lived in this often surreal time when being larger than life is a requirement to fame and genius, and not sometimes a detriment.

Hitchcock Trailer

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