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Secret Window

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  • Secret Window

    United States, 2004
    U.S. Release Date: 3/12/04 (wide)
    Running Length: 1:42
    MPAA Classification: PG-13 (Violence, gore, sexual situations, profanity)
    Theatrical Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
    Cast: Johnny Depp, John Turturro, Maria Bello, Timothy Hutton, Charles S. Dutton
    Director: David Koepp
    Producer: Gavin Polone
    Screenplay: David Koepp, based on "Secret Window, Secret Garden" by Stephen King
    Cinematography: Fred Murphy
    Music: Philip Glass
    U.S. Distributor: Columbia Pictures

    Note: This review contains spoilers. Those seeking a pristine movie-going experience are recommended to return only after having seen the film.

    Movies based on a previously published story of prolific writer Stephen King have varied across the quality spectrum, from the unwatchable (Children of the Corn, Maximum Overdrive) to the excellent (Stand By Me, The Shawshank Redemption). Secret Window, adapted by writer/director David Koepp (Stir of Echoes), falls somewhere in between, albeit closer to the latter than the former. Secret Window is more thriller than horror, and will probably resonate most strongly with those who appreciate the mental gymnastics encouraged by the likes of Identity and The Fight Club.

    Secret Window introduces us to Mort Rainey (Johnny Depp), an unkempt author who is holed up in an isolated cabin somewhere in the woods, trying to use writing as a form of self-therapy to forget the infidelity of his soon-to-be ex-wife, Amy (Maria Bello). Mort's life is a mess, but it's soon to become even messier. One afternoon, an ominous man calling himself John Shooter (John Turturro) arrives as Mort's door and claims that Mort plagiarized one of his stories. Mort is incredulous, and immediately dismisses the man. But Shooter will not be put off so easily, and he begins to stalk Mort, threatening dire consequences if the writer does not come to terms with him, then acting on his threats when Mort refuses to capitulate.

    Secret Window offers a twist of sorts, but it's one that's consistent with the story and is only likely to surprise the inattentive viewer. Although Koepp doesn't telegraph things too obviously, it appears to be his intention for the viewer to be aware that there's more than one explanation for Shooter's actions. Recognizing the underlying reality of the situation does little to defuse the tension - a fair amount of suspense remains concerning what will happen to the primary characters: Mort, Shooter, Amy, Amy's lover (Timothy Hutton), and a private investigator hired by Mort (Charles S. Dutton). And Koepp thankfully doesn't wimp out and give us a "safe" ending.

    The film's strength is one of perspective. It's difficult for a motion picture to effectively employ the technique of the "unreliable narrator" (this is much easier to accomplish in writing), but Koepp overcomes the obstacles with seeming ease. There's no awkwardness when the point-of-view shifts during the final fifteen minutes. That's also the point at which all is revealed to those who haven't figured out what's going on, and when those who have successfully "read" between the lines will be able silently exult, "I knew it!"

    Equally important to Koepp's approach and vision is the work of his actors, primarily the two leads. In many ways, this is a more "typical" Johnny Depp role than his Oscar nominated turn in The Pirates of the Caribbean. Depp's performance is low-key and intense; he plays a loner at odds with the world, where the walls seem to be gradually closing in. The film's sense of claustrophobia is one part Koepp and one part Depp. Physically, Mort bears little resemblance to Cap'n Jack Sparrow. "Disheveled" is almost too mild a word - during much of the film, Mort is in dire need of a shower and a comb.

    The standout is John Turturro, who makes Shooter a terrifying individual. Normally, when one thinks of Turturro, the first words that come to mind are "character actor" or "everyman." Here, however, he is evil personified. He radiates danger and malevolence, and it's not hard to understand why Mort is so freaked out by this hat-wearing stranger who appears one afternoon at his door. Solid support is provided by Maria Bello, Timothy Hutton, and Charles S. Dutton, all in relatively small roles. The majority of this film is Depp and Tuturro.

    Secret Window draws inspiration equally from two of Koepp's previous projects: The Trigger Effect (which he wrote and directed), a talky thriller with tension percolating just under the surface, and Panic Room (which he wrote), about a showdown inside a New York City brownstone. Those looking for a standard Stephen King gorefest will be disappointed. The levels of violence and blood are tame enough for the MPAA to issue a PG-13 (although I dispute that because of one scene), leaving the majority of Secret Window's horror in the psychological realm. It's a taut, entertaining motion picture that serves its purpose.

  • #2
    I got it on bootleg from the local swap-meet It was ok. Not my fav, but then again I did get bootleg not full price tix. lol
    If I replyed to this thread it most likely will die

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    • #3
      did yu see it? I wanna see it so bad
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      • #4
        There seemed to be some hype prior to its release but that seemed to have died down...anyone else see this?

        "When you guys get home and face an anti-war protester, look him in the eyes and shake his hand. Then, wink at his girlfriend, because she knows she's dating a pussy."

        "Carry 24/7 or guess right."

        "There are only two kinds of people that understand Marines: Marines and the enemy. Everyone else has a second-hand opinion."

        "993 yo f9t[n9y[I8itineraryBMiy v][/t u 98 oh 99 u]y8y u[/hy jyip NH j o have I h"


        • #5
          Haven't seen it, but I want to!

          Lift light and ya never get tight ~


          • #6
            So, has anyone seen this or what?


            • #7
              nope, it opens now here where I am, maybe I'll go see it this weekend =)