Johnny Depp, John Turturro, Maria Bello
Columbia Tristar Home Entertainment
Date: June 22, 2004
Review posted: June 29, 2004
Dylan Grant and
Following a bitter separation from his wife, fames mystery writer
Mort Rainey (Depp) is unexpectedly confronted at his remote lake
house by a dangerous stranger (Turturro), claiming that Rainey
plagiarized his story. As the horror spirals out of control,
Rainey soon discovers that he cannot trust anyone or anything.
According to Dylan
Rainey has been sleeping a lot lately. He is a blocked writer
recently, bitterly separated from his wife (Bello). The opening scene
lays this out for us, as Mort storms into a motel room and finds his
wife in bed with Ted (Timothy Hutton). One day his afternoon is
interrupted by John Shooter (Turturro), and from there the film never
Window, based on the
novella Secret Window,
by Stephen King, calls several past works to mind. Koepp’s previous
Stir of Echoes, Roman Polanski’s The Tenant
(acknowledged as an inspiration by Koepp), and King’s The Dark Half,
all while creating its own sense of menace. Depp is superb as Rainey,
giving the impression that Rainey is scared of everything. Turturro is
appropriately menacing as the mysterious Shooter. The acting in
Secret Window is the best part about the film. It is a shame that
the performers did not have better material to work with. Secret
Window is not a bad film, but is familiar, predictable. We
know where the story is going long before it ever occurs to Rainey,
and that fact makes it a bit difficult to watch certain scenes.
scene, where the big twist is revealed, is the best scene in the film,
a technical feat. The way Koepp turns the little click in Mort’s head
– where everything becomes clear to him – into a virtuoso scene is
remarkable to watch. On a strictly technical level, this is an amazing
film. Koepp gets the maximum mileage out of the cabin set, which is
where most of the action takes place. Koepp wrote the script for
Panic Room, and it is clear that the experience of working on that
film informs the making of Secret Window.
film is well constructed, well written, and the acting is outstanding,
but the film does not do well to keep its secrets hidden, with too
much becoming apparent too soon. Though flawed, Secret Window
is tense throughout, and it is definitely worth seeing.
The Film According to
is quite possibly the best adaptation of a Stephen King short story.
The film takes the essence of King’s short and builds upon it in many
satisfying ways. While the film does have its problems, it is an
Johnny Depp gives a
wonderful performance as Mort Rainey. Rainey is a man tortured by his
recent separation and his inability to write. Depp plays the role with
a wonderful off beat tone, blending physical humor and naturalistic
smart-ass comebacks. I truly believe this one of his best roles. John
Turturro is genuinely creepy as John Shooter; the man who claims
Rainey stole his work. He is the sort of villain who has the ability
to show up anywhere, at anytime, and we never question it. Charles
Dutton is enjoyable to watch as the private detective hired to the
case, although we never get the opportunity to enjoy his presence as
much as I would have liked.
The story has
numerous twists and turns, most of which never really pan out.
However, the story does give the viewer many clues, some real and some
fake. And while the biggest twist of the story may or may not
surprise, I found that the ending itself was the biggest surprise of
Overall, it’s a fun
watch. King fans will be pleased with the adaptation. Mystery and
horror fans will love to follow the clues and try and guess “whodunit”
before the big reveal. It’s a well made and sometimes very cleaver
is presented in
2.40:1 anamorphic widescreen. The transfer is clean, with the full
color scale exceptionally translated, and there is no graininess
or signs of digital artifacting.
Optional subtitles are available in English and
This DVD has tracks in both English and French, both presented in
5.1 Dolby Digital sound. The
ambient sound works well in the night scenes and adds a wonderful
level of dread to the story. The dialogue is clear and is never
buried underneath music or sound effects. The
audio presentation is exceptionally sharp, with the surround sound
coming through crisply in all channels.
Commentary by writer/director David Koepp:
Recorded before the film’s theatrical release, Koepp talks about
the technical aspects of making the film, how certain decisions
were made, working with the actors and creating the films visual
motif. While not the most lively commentary track, this is still
very interesting and worth a listen.
Self-explanatory, but these trailers are a lot of fun.
deleted scenes with optional director’s commentary:
Only two of these scenes have actual commentary. Koepp talks about the
scenes and explains what led to them being cut.
Two are extended sequences,
including a few more seconds added to the ending (which makes sure
there is no doubt as to what happened in the ending.) And the other
two are short cuts that really have no bearing on plot.
to Film” featurette:
Koepp talks about his inspirations, how he came to the film, and Depp
and Turturro talk about their characters.
Through It” featurette:
This takes a technical look at how some of the films more complex
shots were put together. Koepp gives much of the same information he
gives in his commentary.
Revealed” featurette: A
look at how the revealing scene at the end of the film was shot.
generated creations of four of the films more complicated shots:
opening credits, pushing the car off the cliff, twist revealed, and
into the garden. These are interesting to watch to see how each scene
went from conception to finished film.
Note from Dylan: The bonus material goes into great detail on the
making of the film. Considering the use of the cabin set, it would
have been nice to have something on how the set was constructed, but
that is a minor point when there is so much already.
From Dylan's desktop: Despite its faults, Secret Window is
a tense, tightly constructed film. It is exceptionally represented on
this DVD, with a great transfer and detailed special features. This is
definitely worth a watch.
From Jon's desktop:
It’s a shame that the featurettes do nothing more than just repeat the
information given in the commentary track though. It’s a fun little
film that, although I figured out the twist long before the film
revealed it, I still felt satisfied with the end.
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