Secret Window DVD: Review By justincase

  • Feature
  • Extras
  • Replay Value
Johnny Depp has long been one of my favorite actors. It really is too bad that he has to show his political ineptitude by locating in France and making various statements in public about his reasons for doing so. My opinion has long been -- if you don't like it here (whether due to the government, the weather, the crime, whatever)... leave... and don't come back. Depp, however, knows on which side (of the Atlantic) his bread is buttered. So he returns. Very recently, though, he stepped up into my little Montana hideaway town and worked out at the local health club, thereby causing enough ruckus to get the local radio station to pick it up. It appears that the speculation is that Depp, like so many other Hollywood superstars, has decided he needs a Montana retreat and may (or so the rumor goes) be looking into local real estate.

Maybe after filming Secret Window, he decided that a cabin in the mountains, among the wildlife and the fresh air, would clear his head of all that French-fried nonsense. Whatever the reason, Depp should heed the warnings in Secret Window for thoughtful artist-types that reap too large a dose of seclusion...

Based on a story in the Stephen King collection, "Four Past Midnight", which also contained one of my favorite King fables, "The Langoliers", Secret Window tells the tale of a young writer (Mort Rainey - played by Depp), secluded in his cabin enduring a painful divorce, who is acosted and stalked by a psychotic stranger (Turturro) who claims Rainey "stole" his story. The stranger will stop at nothing to get Rainey to "fix the ending" of the story and make things right.

Secret Window is a taught and compelling psycho-thriller that, although stunningly predictable, kept me strapped in through the entire running time.

Depp proves again, here, why he is one of the best actors among the "young-Hollywood" crowd. His peculiarities and objectionable politics aside, this guy can really put it on the screen in a way that few others can. He has proven, again, with this film that he has a knack for picking interesting characters that are compelling to watch and feel and must be great fun to play. One gets the feeling that when Depp chooses a role, he just drops himself entirely into the character and lives that life -- at least intellectually -- until the filming is finished. The result... a very consistently deep and complex portrayal that even allows the audience to love it after they've guessed the ending.

Depp is backed up by one of the best supporting actors today, John Turturro, playing the dreary and deadpan John Shooter. This guy deserves way more recognition than he gets for all the times he delivers stellar performances. As much as William H. Macy, I like watching Turturro work his art on the screen -- regardless of the tale. Here, he'll give you goosebumps when he pops-up from time to time.

The story is a good one. Vintage King (although "touched-up" a bit for film). Although predictable, the film grips you to the bitter end -- dragging you through the mud inside Rainey's tortured head. David Koepp delivers the goods here, as both screenwriter and director. His adaptation works on the screen with near perfect pace and dialogue that rips you from painful conversations between estranged spouses to Rainey's tortured exchanges with himself. Koepp's subtle queues -- that take you inside Rainey's mind (for most of the picture) and, at the end, return you to the objective reality -- illustrate just how much detail a master at this craft can weave without the audience really being aware of what they've just seen or what it means...even as they feel the effect of those shots.
The disc's special features are about the average for what you expect these days of all DVDs:

Audio Commentary:

1. David Koepp - Writer/Director





Deleted Scenes with Optional Director's Commentary (4)

Animated Storyboards - 1. Opening Titles

2. Pushing Car Off Cliff

3. The Twist Revealed

4. In the Garden

I would have liked to have seen the commentary include, at least a cameo from Stephen King.

All-in-all, though, the Featurettes were informative but mostly "standard". I didn't spend any time with the story boards or the deleted scenes, so you better check them out for yourselves.
Although predictable, Secret Window is masterfully acted and expertly directed and will keep you riveted from start to finish.

Most would do well to rent this and call it good. Many of you, though -- especially fans of King, Depp and/or Turturro -- will want to add this to your collection. Hopefully you got it at Wal-Mart while it was still available for $15.24. I'm not sure I liked it well enough to create shelf-space for it at above $20. If you don't own it yet -- wait it out. 12 months from now, you'll find it for $14.99

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