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Secret Window (2004)

PG-13   |    |  Drama, Mystery, Thriller


Secret Window (2004) Poster

A successful writer in the midst of a painful divorce is stalked at his remote lake house by a would-be scribe who accuses him of plagiarism.

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6.6/10
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  • Johnny Depp in Secret Window (2004)
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  • Johnny Depp and Maria Bello in Secret Window (2004)
  • Johnny Depp and Timothy Hutton in Secret Window (2004)
  • Johnny Depp and Timothy Hutton in Secret Window (2004)

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31 January 2009 | Lechuguilla
A Writer With Problems
Johnny Depp plays Mort Rainey, a writer with wife problems. Mort secludes himself in a wilderness cabin to write. Soon, he gets a visit from a strange Southern mountain man named John Shooter (John Turturro). Throughout most of the plot, Mort tries to deal with this threatening man who won't go away, and confronts his wife and her new lover.

"Secret Window" is a moody, Hitchcockian thriller with a major story twist. Pacing is slow. There's lots of waiting for something to happen, which enhances a sense of foreboding. And Depp's performance is terrific.

With hair that looks like a mop, and a delightfully slovenly appearance, Mort mopes around the cabin, talks to his nearly blind dog, and tries to placate Mr. Shooter. He also spends a lot of time on the phone, mostly with Shooter and with his disconsolate wife.

Casting and acting are fine. Production design is great; love that cabin where Mort lives. Camera work, lighting, special effects, CGI, and editing are all quite good.

Although I liked the film's twist, some viewers will be disappointed with it, perhaps because the underlying idea is not terribly original. The risk for the director is that the entire story hinges on this one twist. If a viewer discovers the twist ahead of time, or finds it unsatisfying for any reason, the viewer likely will render a negative verdict on the entire film.

My only serious complaint with the film is that, at times, the plot discards logic so as to maximize gratuitous violence, the result no doubt of the film's source material, a horror story by Stephen King.

Overall, "Secret Window" is a generally fine thriller, enhanced especially by the splendid performance of Johnny Depp. Just be aware that one's reaction to this film likely will depend on one's perception of the story's major plot twist.

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