Review by: Jack Foley | Rating:
DVD SPECIAL FEATURES: Director's commentary; 4 deleted
scenes; 'From Book to Film' featurette; 'A Look Through It' featurette;
'Secrets Revealed' featurette; Storyboards; Theatrical trailer.
JOHNNY Depp has performed some box office miracles of late, but
not even he can save The Secret Window from becoming the disappointment
that it winds up.
Having turned Pirates of
the Caribbean into the surprise runaway hit of last years
blockbuster season, and helping to enliven Robert Rodriguezs
over-bloated Once Upon A Time
in Mexico, he now lends his charisma to a taut psychological
thriller, based upon a Stephen King novella.
Yet as watchable as the star remains throughout, he is ill-served
by the material, which ruthlessly squanders its potential with
one of the unsatisfactory endings in ages.
Depp stars as emotionally unstable writer, Mort Rainey, whose
reclusive existence, in a remote New England log cabin, is put
to an end by the arrival of John Turturros bizarre stranger,
John Shooter, who accuses him of plagiarism and demands that he
put things right, or face the dire consequences.
And so begins a battle of wits between the two, which forces
Depp to confront the emotional fallout from his recently failed
marriage (to Maria Bello), and which finds Turturro resorting
to traditional stalker mode, complete with the ability to terrorise
the obligatory family pet.
If Rainey can restore Shooters name to the story and include
the original ending, then all will be forgiven, but Depps
reluctance to accept responsibility places his life, and those
around him, in danger.
Written and directed by David Koepp (whose script-writing resume
includes the likes of Panic Room,
Spider-Man and Mission:
Impossible), The Secret Window sets itself up as an old-fashioned
pot-boiler in the Hitchcock tradition, and includes the odd creepy
moment, but is ultimately let down by the flimsy nature of its
Depp does his best to mask the movies shortcomings, managing
to bring his trademark quirkiness to the role of the troubled
writer and providing a compelling screen presence, but when the
twist is so obvious and the ending so banal, not even he can prevent
viewers from lapsing into an overwhelming sense of resentment
at being so blatantly cheated.
Koepp may be an expert in building tension and creating a foreboding
sense of dread and paranoia, and his film looks great throughout,
but he cannot enliven the source material, and winds up heading
towards a dead end.
As a consequence, he ends up squandering the talents of a good
cast, despite building a good rapport between the likes of Depp,
Turturro and Charles S Dutton, who crops up as a private investigator.
That the film opened at the top of the US box office, despite
lukewarm reviews, when it opened earlier this year, is probably
down to Depps new-found mainstream popularity, off the back
of his winning 2003, but this marks a rare mis-step in an otherwise
It is, in the final analysis, a secret window thats not