Pictures presents a film written and directed by David
Koepp. Based Stephen King's novella "Secret Window,
Secret Garden." Rated PG-13 (violence-terror, sexual
content, language). Running time: 106 minutes. Starring
Johnny Depp, John Turturro, Maria Bello, Timothy Hutton,
Charles S. Dutton.
Rainey, famous author, walks aroiund his house, dressed in
his ex-wife's bathrobe. He struggles over the first paragraph
of a new story, talks to his beloved blind dog, guzzles Doritos
and sleeps on the couch. He is bored, confused, lazy, and
perfectly content with his current lifestyle. That is, until
he is met at the door by an imposing man with a heavy Mississippi
drawl. "Yew stohl mah storee," the man tells
Mort. He introduces himself as John Shooter and hands over
a manuscript entitled "Sowing Season," which is
almost word-for-word identical to a story Mort wrote: "Secret
Window." Mort dismisses Shooter as insane, Shooter starts
making dire threats and then acting upon them.
makes up the plotline for Secret Window, David Koepp's
adaptation of the Stephen King novella "Secret Window,
Secret Garden." Mort is played by Johnny Depp, one of
the most brilliantly inventive actors working today. In Pirates
of the Caribbean, Depp stole the show; in Secret Window,
he is the show, and he bites into the part with relish.
He walks around the house, isolated, in dire need of a shave
and a hair cut. Depp refuses to play anything traditionally,
and here even the most mundane of tasks is turned into something
bizarrely astounding. Shooter is played by John Turturro,
who goes over-the-top in order to make Shooter as menacing
as possible and pulls it off.
is primarily a thriller, and a good one at that. Koepp to
create a claustrophobic atmosphere, and he proves to be a
master of the slow reveal. During times of heightened tension,
the film is all tight close-ups, allowing very little to be
seen in frame, which lets our imagination run wild about what
could be hiding around the corner. Whether or not anything
is there is beside the point: it's the tension that
matters. The dialogue is crisp and believable, and the scenes
between Depp and Turturro simply smolder.
of course, there is the obligatory third-act twist. In this
kind of movie I prefer to sit back and not even try to figure
out what's going on; it's more fun if I can just let the film
take me in without thinking about it too hard. So, while I
didn't really figure the movie out ahead of time, I wasn't
at all surprised by the twist. But the difference between
this predictable ending, and - say - the one in The
Recruit is that Koepp doesn't make it seem like no
one would have expected what's coming, and doesn't treat it
like some grand revealing, or the entire point of the film.
And, even if you figure the twist out, there's still plenty
of tension as to what will happen to the characters.
performances come from Maria Bello as Mort's ex-wife, Amy,
Timothy Hutton as Amy's boyfriend, Ted, and Charles S. Dutton
as a private investigator Mort hires. Their roles are small,
as the film is primarily Depp and Turturro, but they all do
the top-notch talent invovled, Secret Window could
have turned into an execrable mess. But because of Depp, Koepp,
and Turturro, it is instead a strong, taught thriller that
doesn't wimp out with a for-the-masses denouement.
It isn't perfect, but it more than gets the job done.
2004 Matt Noller