I went into this review reminding myself that I don’t particularly care for Johnny Depp, the actor or the personality. It wasn’t that he has done anything to me personally, but that the excessive list of eccentric characters he has worked with has overshadowed what could otherwise have been a pretty stellar, normal career. Even so, Depp didn’t make his name by playing normal, and therefore the end result was that Secret Window, based on King’s short novel “Secret Window, Secret Garden” is a prime example of what could have been. Depp plays a more calm, resigned character, in sharp contrast to some of his, ah, more “artistic” works.
Well… sort of.
I apologize that this movie is also about a writer. I could’ve picked a different order to re-view some of these, but this ended up being the most convenient at the time. In fact, it has similar characteristics to the first review of our segment; Bag of Bones in that the main character, Mort Rainey, has recently suffered the loss of his wife, and is attempting to write in solitude at a cabin deep in the rural woodlands. In this case, however the loss of his wife is the result of another man, and not of an accidental collision with a bus, so the common emotion is more disgruntlement and anger than actual grief. Rainey, as a man in transition, does not make for the greatest or most consistent narrative, but the uncertainty of what is to come next is a big part of what makes it fun. This has to be considered something of a staple of King, although whether it has anything to do with his own personal life, or just an idea that he was a fan of, I can’t entirely be sure. But I wouldn’t recommend watching Bag of Bones and Secret Window back to back, and allow some greater variety in your own personal Stephen King marathon.
Its disturbing, and yet amusing at the same time.
Depp’s performance is very solid, as is that of John Turturro, who plays “John Shooter,” a disgruntled local who has accused Rainey of plagiarizing a book. It’s probably his best (serious) performance behind playing Billy Martin in The Bronx is Burning. Rainey, put off by the accusation, knows for a fact that he was the first one to write the novel, titled Everybody Drops the Dime, but must deal with the consistent harassment of Shooter throughout the film, in addition to trying to cope with the prospect of immediate divorce with his wife, Amy (Maria Bello.)
Eerie as parts of the film are, this one, more than any of the others depends strongly on a gripping storyline. Most of the movie is not horror, and the vast majority of it is not even unsettling, but it will keep you interested, and the solid acting and production make it a pleasant viewing experience. Due to its common characterization as a film “By a writer, for writers,” it might be harder to relate to for some, but in my opinion it fits in well enough with popular demand to keep the attention of most.
Keep a particularly close eye on some of the things that go on. It’s a lot to swallow, and the very pretty scenery can distract from the details, but this is the kind of film that, in my opinion, is at its very best the first time you watch it. It’s a more reasonable run time than some of the others I have reviewed, and should be good for an evening sitting, potentially with some friends.