April 6, 2004 On an evening very dreary, a youngish novelist very weary, goes to his cabin door. There he meets a stranger, very leery, who says the novelist has stolen his story. And there you have "Secret Window," a film based on a Stephen King novella, "Secret Window, Secret Garden."
The novelist is Mort Rainey (Johnny Depp), and his soon-to-be nemesis is John Shooter (John Turturro). The aptly named Shooter wears a somehow menacing southern wide-brimmed hat, which accentuates his unbalanced appearance.
In the words of Chicago Tribune movie critic Michael Wilmington, "Eyes glistening, voice a dour rasp, Shooter demands that, within three days, the author either prove he actually did write the story first, or somehow 'make things right'."
So far, so good. Most reviewers agree Depp is, well, Depp charismatic, vulnerable, engaging. Turturro is an excellent villain, an assessment hard to disagree with. The real villain here, according to the critics, is the plot.
The story revolves around Rainey's turmoil in trying to remember if he actually could have stolen the plot, and his other preoccupation a pending divorce. In the meantime, several people known to Rainey turn up dead. Not a good sign.
Wesley Morris of the Boston Globe puts it this way. "The movie never seems quite sure what to do with Mort's soon-to-be ex-wife Amy (Maria Bello) and her new beau, Teddy (Timothy Hutton) . Not all the deaths add up and even the pretend-dim local sheriff (Len Cariou, who's great) is scratching holes in his head that go well with the ones in the plot."
All of this wears on the hard-drinking Rainey, as well it should, to say nothing of the fact that he is suffering from a good case of writer's block.
Ah, where's the innocence of the "Benny and Joon" days, when all Depp had to worry about was how the grilled cheese sandwich he was making, with an iron on an ironing board, would come out.
Anyhow, grab a good seat, lean back and enjoy Depp. Wave at him.
Directed by David Koepp, the movie runs 1:46 and is rated PG-13 for violence, sexual content and language, which seems to be stretching PG-13 a bit.
The film is currently playing at Market Square East on St. Thomas.
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