Written and Directed by David Koepp

Running Time: 1:36

Rated PG-13
for violence/terror, sexual content and language.


Johnny Depp
as Mort Rainey

Maria Bello
as Amy Dowd Rainey

Charles Dutton
as Ken Karsch

Timothy Hutton
as Ted Milner

John Turturro
as John Shooter

Johnny Depp
Johnny Depp posters/pictures

Johnny Depp - portrait
Johnny Depp - portrait

Pirates of the Caribbean - Johnny Depp
Pirates of the Caribbean - Johnny Depp


What was an otherwise so-so film, Secret Window was saved by a ruthless final 15 minutes that will either make you stand up and applaud, or make you want to throw your popcorn at the screen.


Mort Rainey is a successful author with an unsuccessful marriage. He found his wife Ann, cheating on him in a motel six months earlier, and it has made him unable to do much of anything. He lives alone in a cabin by a lake, sleeping on his couch, trying not to smoke, trying to write, and doing everything possible to not have to talk to his soon-to-be ex-wife. One day, a man named John Shooter shows up at his doorstep, claiming that Mort stole a story from him years earlier. The man wants justice done by showing the world that Mort is nothing more than a plagarizer. Mort knows he wrote the story first, but Shooter does everything in his power to get rid of the proof. Suddenly, people are dying left and right and there's nothing Mort can do to stop it. His whole world is collapsing in on him... and he might just like it.


In Secret Window, Johnny Depp gives another great performance in a quirky kind of role. He talks to himself a lot, which allows for a lot of his brand of humor. His character has a lot of interesting little traits that make you wonder if they were written in or if Depp just made them up. Like continually opening his mouth and flexing his jaw. Something like that just adds another level to a complex character. Left in the hands of another actor, Mort Rainey might have been a straightfoward man in peril, but in the hands of Depp, he's a strange little man who may or may not be what he seems.

The story was kind of odd to me, until the final fifteen minutes when it all came together in a somewhat surprising twist. Up until that point I kept wondering why a guy from Mississippi would care so deeply about having his story stolen, as to kill a man's dog with a screwdriver. And yes, I just gave that little story element away but believe me, it's minor compared to what else happens in the film. This kind of film is hard to talk about since the ending makes the film (as Depp says in the movie, it's the ending that's important). There aren't a lot of characters; it really is pretty much Depp on his own. And the supporting cast is rather bland. Maria Bello, as the wife, doesn't do much except cry every so often. Timothy Hutton has a slight accent and plays a tough guy but otherwise is just sort of there. Charles Dutton's character isn't on screen as much as I would have hoped, and John Turturro comes off as being completely insane with an over-the-top southern accent that makes you wonder if maybe his character was inbred. So it's left to Depp to carry the film.

Once you see the ending, there are obviously going to be questions about how it was all possible. Much like in the Sixth Sense (but not nearly as well done) it almost makes you want to go back and watch the film again. David Koepp, who has written some major blockbusters in his time, wrote and directed Secret Window (and as a side note, gave himself two title cards, which bothers me for some reason), and while the movies he writes usually do good business, the ones he directs aren't nearly as good. Getting Johnny Depp turned out to be a casting coup and will be the one thing that saves Koepp's latest directing adventure from hitting the video shelves early.


So overall, I enjoyed Secret Window, because of Johnny Depp and because of the unapologetic ending. It's a finale that will leave some people annoyed, but left me applauding.

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reviewed 03/08/04

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