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Rediff.com  » Movies » Even Depp cannot save Secret Window

Even Depp cannot save Secret Window

March 12, 2004 14:10 IST

Johnny Depp in Secret WindowThere is some amount of tension in the early part of Secret Window when a writer, who has become a master of probing the nightmares of his characters, is slowly drawn into his own nightmares.

But the film once again shows that with a few exceptions, including Misery, Stephen King hasn't been served well by scriptwriters and directors. This film is not as disastrous as Dreamcatcher, a dreadful adaptation of yet another King work. Don't be surprised if Secret Window beckons millions of peepers.

Secret Window had also raised hopes because of Johnny Depp, an actor of serious talent whose luck has been soaring in the last year thanks to the blockbuster, Pirates Of The Caribbean: The Curse Of The Black Pearl. Depp has acted in stinkers before, and his colourful character filled with eccentricities keeps the movie going a long way. But the film begins to lose its steam and in the second half, it cannot be saved. Yet, it may do decent business in the first week of its opening thanks to Depp and a campaign that focuses on the eerie and darker impulses of the flick.

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But what will hurt the film is the lack of sympathetic characters and the uneasy mixture of elements from a wide range of suspense films, including Psycho and The Sixth Sense.

Depp stars as Mort Rainey, a best-selling mystery writer who is trying to finish writing a novel in a seemingly peaceful lakeside abode. Actually, he is distracted by the messy divorce proceeding with his wife (Maria Bello), who has betrayed him. He finds it extremely difficult to let the book develop. Suddenly, a stranger John Shooter (John Turturro) arrives, asserting Rainey has stolen a story he had published it in a widely circulated mystery magazine.

A still from Secret WindowShooter demands that Rainey either proves in three days that he wrote the story first, or 'make things right'. Ramsey thinks it is no big deal, but Shooter doesn't go away even though he has been offered 'proof' of the story's ownership. The writer seeks the help of the police and a streetsmart New York detective (Charles S Dutton).

Rainey's troubles mount. The audiences start feeling restless, as one bad thing after another happens. And, suddenly, one begins feeling that the script is overworking.

The climax is meant to stun and force us to reevaluate all that had happened till then. But it looks over-contrived.
Depp is reasonably good in the first half of the film but the illogical script and less-than-demanding direction hurts his performance. Turturro is interesting up to a point, but director David Koepp gets him to overdo things, including the accent.

One expected better work from the rest of the admirable cast that includes Charles Dutton but the actors are let down by a weak script and ho-hum direction.

CREDITS
Cast: Johnny Depp, John Turturro, Maria Bello and Charles Dutton
Director: David Koepp
Based on: Secret Window, Secret Garden by Stephen King;
Running time: 1 hour, 40 minutes
Rating: PG-13 for violence/terror, sexual content and language.

Arthur J Pais