Saturday, September 26, 2020

Movie Reviews: Secret Window

Secret Window
directed by David Koepp
This is another older movie which was based on a Stephen King novella. It had been a while since I read the King creation so I was able to watch this movie without too many expectations. 
In some aspects one might argue that this film was a little darker than the book it adapted. Either way I thought it was a worthwhile way to spend just over ninety minutes.
I liked that for most of the film there is some question as whether or not there is anything supernatural occurring. In terms of violence I would say there is not all that much throughout though as usual sensitive souls may find a few things that might give them pause.  This is not a film like Sleepwalkers where the writer and director were deliberately going for the visual or emotional grossout. 
As any review of society or business gossip pages shows there is no accounting for people's romantic tastes. People whom I think of as unattractive divorce attractive people and claim they've never been happier. People who are rich and good looking divorce each other and boast if they never see each other again it will be too damn soon. Someone who knows all too well the vagaries of love and loss is one Mort Rainey (Johnny Depp), a depressed and eccentric writer, who wouldn't you know it is suffering from writer's block.
Mort just can't concentrate on his work. Mort is living alone in an upstate NY lakefront cabin. It's just Mort, his dog and an occasional cleaning lady who drops by a few times a week. You would think that this scenic isolation would be the perfect opportunity to get some work done. But all Mort can do is sleep most of the day, smoke cigarettes, talk to himself, talk to his dog, edit or erase the few words he's written and fret about the furniture placement. 
Mort can't get anything done because his brain is in a rut. A short time ago Mort discovered that his attractive soon to be ex-wife Amy (Maria Bello) had been performing ancient friendship rituals with the couple's good friend, now Amy's extra-special friend, Ted (Timothy Hutton). 
Apparently Ted went over to Amy for some salt and she gave him some sugar. Amy and Ted have future plans. Amy doesn't want Mort's boots under her bed any more.  Amy wants Mort to go, to turn around and walk out the door because he's not welcome any more. 
She wants a D-I-V-O-R-C-E.  
From desperate yet pathetic hope and passive aggressive spite Mort has been dragging his heels on signing the divorce papers, something that is making Amy and especially Ted express increasingly negative feelings towards Mort.
So depressed, tired, irritable, and bored, Mort is not in the mood to deal with any nonsense from another writer, Mississippi born John Shooter (John Turturro) who shows up one day at Mort's cabin claiming that Mort stole John's story  "Sowing Season" and republished it as "Secret Window". Mort isn't above doing such things mind you but this accusation is bogus. Mort published "Secret Window" at least two years before John claims to have written "Sowing Season". 
And Mort thinks he can prove it. Well maybe he can and maybe he can't. The disturbingly intense John gives Mort three days to prove it or else. And "Or else what??" is not necessarily a question Mort wants to ask the stern looking John, who gives every indication of being the sort of Old Testament quoting fellow who would not have a problem burning the demons out of his children if he thought it was the right thing to do. 
The problem is that the proof Mort needs is back at the family home, with Amy and Ted. Mort would just as soon not talk to them. When Mort's dog winds up dead and strange events occur at his cabin, Mort decides that it might be prudent to hire the private eye Ken Karsch (Charles S. Dutton) to investigate John Shooter and provide a little muscle. But things don't go as anyone planned. This is a film which features Depp doing an almost trademarked quirky, distracted, eccentric role. This is a thriller, not horror film. 
But there are plenty of things that go bump in the night, noises where there should be silence, some effective use of jump cuts, and growing romantic and psychological tension. Before Mort even mentions it, the viewer can feel his frustration when Ted tries to sit in on a divorce related meeting concerning spousal income and division of marital property. Good not great movie for a Saturday afternoon. We see just about everything from Mort's POV. This will have pros and cons.
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