This isn't a biopic of Alfred Hitchcock. This movie just focuses on one year of his life. The year is 1959 - 1960. North By Northwest has just been released, and it was a huge success. The studio wants him to make another movie just like it, but he wants to do a horror movie. He finds the book Psycho and decides that will be his next movie.
We get to see his battles with the studio, who refuse to finance the movie, leaving Hitchcock (Anthony Hopkins) to finance it himself by taking out a load against his house. We also see him battle the censors about everything from violence and nudity to showing a toilet. The funniest scene in the movie is when the head of the censor board argues about showing a toilet flush, which no American movie had ever done.
Helen Mirren plays Hitchcock's wife, Alma. She may be having an affair with an author named Whitfield Cook (Danny Huston), and this subplot is where the movie lost me a little. But Mirren delivers a great performance and her scenes with Hopkins are great fun. Hopkins does a great impersonation of Hitchcock, and I would love to see him play the director again just to get more of this performance.
The movie works best when it's focusing on the making of Psycho. Scarlett Johansson is very good as Janet Leigh, and James D'Arcy is wonderfully creepy as Anthony Perkins. I just wish he was in the movie more. Danny Huston is very good, but unfortunately his scenes are the ones that are the most unnecessary to the movie. Any time the focus is on Alma and Whitfield, I was just wanting to get back to Hitchcock.
We don't get to learn a lot about the man himself except that he was in an almost loveless marriage, and he liked to eavsdrop (and peep) on his actresses. This movie is a lot of fun.