The Master of Suspense is finally getting a biopic of his own, but -- as with so many of his classic films -- this is one story that might not turn out like you expect.
It could be argued that the most interesting films tend to be made by the most interesting filmmakers. A true testament to the genius of auteurs such as Akira Kurosawa, and Werner Herzog is that they somehow managed to make movies that were as compelling as their own lives. Yet be that as it may, biopics about filmmakers are few and far between, and understandably so. If -- for example -- the likes of Taylor Hackford were to apply the same formulaic approach by which he made 'Ray' to a plain re-staging of the life and loves of Jean-Luc Godard, the resulting film would be mauled by the critical cogneoscenti as reductive and unworthy of the genius that inspired its telling.
Most legendary filmmakers are inseparable from the form of their work, and any biopic about such an artist is faced with the unique challenge of reflecting that dynamic in its structure and sinews. All of this is especially true of Alfred Hitchcock, a director so idiosyncratic that the mere image of his profile instantly prepares viewers to enter a cinematic universe unlike any other. Any contemporary filmmaker willing to tackle the master of suspense head-on would have to be pliable and fearless (and equipped with the quad muscles of a line-backer). So with that in mind, why not a guy known for a hilarious documentary about a struggling heavy metal band?
No, Rob Reiner is not directing the Hitchcock biopic (though it's not much of a stretch to see him starring in it). According to the Los Angeles Times, 'Anvil! The Story of Anvil' director Sacha Gervasi is in talks with Ivan Reitman and the folks over at Montecito Pictures to helm the film, which would be based on Stephen Rebello's book 'Alfred Hitchcock and the making of 'Psycho.'
The project has been kicking around for quite a while (Rebello's book was first published some twenty years ago), and several noted Hollywood scribes have tried their hand at adapting it for the screen.
Now, the reason that Gervasi is best known for his Anvil doc is not because it's great (it is), but because it's the only feature-length film he's ever directed. If these talks panned out and Montecito committed to Gervasi, they'd obviously be taking something of a gamble. That being said, 'Anvil' was a head-banging eruption of sly comedy and touching moments, wrapped up in a neatly assembled narrative that evinced a warm understanding of what can happen when people come together to make art. As Anvil lived on the road Hitchcock lived on the set -- this is a world that Gervasi knows, just with prettier people and better lighting.
Besides, the best biopics invariably focus upon a specific period in their subject's life, and the production of 'Psycho' seems like as good a choice as any. The film's trailer is more compelling than most entire films, so even if Gervasi doesn't knock this one out of the park, it should still be good fun to see him swing away.
Any thoughts on who should play Hitchcock? Let us know in the comments section below. And for anyone interested in a playful take on the Hitchcock mystique, we suggest Johan Grimonprez's 'Double Take.'