This is an interesting period for biographical moviemaking, with last year’s “My Week With Marilyn,” the current “Lincoln,” and the upcoming FDR film “Hyde Park on the Hudson.” The films are zeroing in on decisive, resonant moments and periods as opposed to life arcs. That’s a smart approach to this sort of storytelling. But Gus Van Sant’s underrated 1998 shot-for-shot remake of “Pyscho” provides the most illuminating approach to Hitchcock: as karaoke. The trouble with the movie Gervasi and McLaughlin have made is that it’s taken the wrong lessons from its subject. At some point early on, “Hitchcock” cuts from a rotting corpse to a sleeping Mirren. It’s just about the only sequence with any real love in it. Hitchcock might have found it funny, but he at least would have known it was cruel.
When, at last, Alfred tells Alma that he’ll never be able to find a Hitchcock blonde as beautiful as she, Alma says she’s waited 30 years to hear that and he quips, “That’s why they call me the master of suspense.” An exchange like that brings the master into depressing alignment with the tendency of American sitcoms to cast a fat man opposite the fit, tolerant beauty who holds the conjugal enterprise together as his shtick threatens to ruin everything. To that end, “Hitchcock” might appeal to anyone backhandedly subversive enough to wonder how the maker of “Strangers on a Train” and “Topaz” would have done with “The King of Queens.”