March 16, 2004  
Volume 97, Issue 86  

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Depp saves Secret Window

Secret Window
Starring: Johnny Depp, John Turturro, Maria Bello, Charles S. Dutton, Timothy Hutton
Directed by: David Koepp

By Lori Mastronardi
Gazette Staff

Columbia TriStar/2004
IMAGINE WAKING UP NEXT TO THIS! His Royal Hotness is always hot, whether he’s in a ratty bathrobe or a three-piece suit. Some guys have all the luck.

Writer Mort Rainey (Depp) sits alone in his car, the windshield wipers furiously clearing violent splashes of hard rain from the window.

He fights with himself, torn between deciding whether to turn back to the creepy, dark motel room, or leave it behind. In a frantic haste, he convinces himself to discover what’s hiding behind the red motel door.

Mere minutes into Secret Window, the viewer (well, at least the female viewer) will likely label the film’s plot unlikely. Although the movie deals with the fantasy world of film, it is still surprising, maybe even shocking, to think someone would actually cheat on Depp.
If you overlook this error — perhaps you’re male or generally prefer the boy next door — Secret Window will deliver, to an extent.

Six months after realizing his wife (Bello) is banging another man (Hutton), Mort is clearly aching — his hair appears disheveled, his bathrobe tattered and his mind suffers from writer’s block. He also spends his nights asleep on the sofa in his cabin, while his wife resides in the home he bought, with frequent visits from her new lover.

Of course, something else has to go wrong. This is when John Shooter (Turturro), a creepy Mississippi hick, pervades Mort’s life by proffering some rather intense threats. Shooter accuses Mort of stealing his story; apparently, Shooter’s book Sowing Season is remarkably similar to Mort’s Secret Window. Mort thus has three days to prove his story was written first, or else terrible things will unfold.

Based on the novella Secret Window, Secret Garden by Stephen King, this film dishes out an abundance of psychological suspense. Each character is drenched in an eerie, untrustworthy glow; everyone is a suspect. The film is soaked in mystery, as Mort becomes apprehensive of every character. Warped dreams, shaky camera angles and unidentifiable noises add to the film’s uncanny nature, leaving viewers on the edge of their seats, wondering when the next terrifying event will occur.

Although Secret Window projects a predominately depressing feel — an underlying sense of creepiness is present throughout the movie — Depp’s character laces the film with an eccentric sense of humour.

Columbia TriStar/2004
YOU KNOW WHAT THEY SAY: TWO PICTURES OF JOHNNY ARE BETTER THAN ONE. OK, nobody really said that, but we still think it.

Depp consistently provides a reason to watch any film, as no another actor could bring the same sense of life to the role. Not only does Depp briefly sport braces and deny his smoking and drinking habits, he also shares the screen with a replica of himself for a brief period, allowing viewers to double their Depp pleasure.

To discover the film’s mystery, viewers must unravel stories within stories. Despite the fact that the viewer eagerly awaits the conclusion, the ending seems to slightly spoil an otherwise interesting film; however, it is somewhat humorous in delivery thanks to Depp’s character.

Koepp, who wrote Panic Room, leaves us with much of the same impression in Secret Window . Both films appear terrifying in the previews, keep viewers on the edge of their seats for most of the film, yet leave them generally unsatisfied by the end of the film. The real secret is that if Johnny Depp weren’t in this film, there would be little reason to dish out $13 to watch it.



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