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Secret Window /

Rated: PG-13

Starring: Johnny Depp, John Turturro, Maria Bello, Charles S. Dutton, Timothy Hutton

Directed by: David Koepp

Produced by: Pariah Entertainment Group
Written by: David Koepp, Stephen King
Distributor: Columbia Pictures


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     I always try to think of myself as a regular moviegoer, but to deny that I have some type of  a critical ego-trip flooding my personality when I watch a picture would be a downright lie. Once in a while, though, a movie will come along, and all thoughts of reviewing it will leave my mind. Secret Window was one of these movies, a simply cool creation. As dumb and mainstream as it may be, I had a wonderful time watching it. No, not wonderful. Admirable, divine, dynamite, enjoyable, astounding, extraordinary, fabulous, amazing, peachy, fantastic, phenomenal, groovy, incredible, magnificent, brilliant, marvelous, awesome, miraculous, excellent, outstanding, awe-inspiring—get the picture? Just to go with it, and let it flow was lovely. This is, essentially, the first great movie of the year. Amazingly, I’m not embarrassed to say this, but rather pleased.

     Aside from a short prologue of sorts, Secret Window jumps straight into the story. Mort Rainey (Johnny Depp) is a successful author, who is in the middle of a divorce with his wife, Amy (Maria Bello). Amy is still in the relationship which ended hers with Mort, romancing Ted (Timothy Hutton). She took the house that she and Mort lived in when together, after they split up, and he has moved out to an isolated cabin in the countryside. It is there that Secret Window takes place.

     Early one morning, a man named John Shooter (John Tuturo) comes to Mort’s doorstep.

     “You stole my book,” Shooter says. Mort is bewildered by what the stranger tells him, and when he is offered the manuscript for Shooter’s novel, he denies it. Later, he finds it on his doormat, placed under a rock. He reads it, and it is almost identical to his book Secret Window, Secret Garden. He is then met by Shooter many more times, and is demanded to either prove that he wrote and published the story before his enemy or give the rightful author credit for it, and change the ending. Easy enough, right? Things prove to be a lot harder than they seem, when Shooter begins to use arson and kill Mort’s associations with his screwdriver. Shooter then puts Mort in a position where he cannot consult the police. If not already farfetched, Secret Window shifts gears and morphs into an entirely different form. Critic James Berardinelli says that the twist is “only likely to surprise the inattentive viewer,” so I suppose I’m inattentive. I was completely fascinated, and shocked, when it was laid upon me, grinning during each and every moment of film through which it played.

     My happy watching is much thanks to leading man Johnny Depp, of course, who has reached a point in his career where he can do no wrong. Mort may not be as hysterical a character as Captain Jack Sparrow from Pirates of the Caribbean, but still allows for much of Depp’s darker comedic side to be shown. As an actor, he is able to establish a beautiful versatility in the single role, both scaring and charming us. There is no artificiality in Depp’s performance, which many of Hollywood’s greats have sold themselves out to, recently. He’s always divinely pure in his trickery, and displays a distinct likeability for all of those willing to embrace his creativity.

     David Koepp, who has written some great movies and directed some mediocre ones, has finally found his movie. This seems silly, since his other writing credits include Jurassic Park and Mission: Impossible, but he’s really mastered this material. To call Depp his muse almost feels irrational, but I truly believe he is, in some sort of demented way. Koepp’s direction has finally proven itself worthy, and works in more ways than explanatory.

     Secret Window may not be a masterpiece officially, but in my heart it is. Oh, and I’d like to thank Steve Kempster for the eerie sound mixing. No, Danny, you didn’t. Did you? This isn’t an acceptance speech, but, rather, a page-long “Thank You” note. I’ll die for an entertaining movie, and according to the substitution property, I’d die for Secret Window.

-Danny, Bucket Reviews

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