2004-03-26 / Community

MovieScope By Robert Snyder ‘Secret Window’ – Double Depping

MovieScope By Robert Snyder
‘Secret Window’ – Double Depping

Fresh from his Oscar-nominated role in "Pirates of the Caribbean," Johnny Depp has moved into Stephen King land with "Secret Window." While Depp is always amusing as "blocked" mystery writer Mort Rainey, the plot resembles patched together pieces of such far superior movies as "Misery," "Cape Fear" (remake) and "A Beautiful Mind." Having just survived a heart-and-wallet-wrenching divorce from once loving wife Amy (Maria Bello), Mort finds himself living in the boondocks, drowning in self-pity and sharing his apartment with a telephone, sofa, dirty bathrobe and a dog.

One day, a strange man (John Tur turro) with a black wide-brimmed hat and a bad Southern accent appears. His name is John Shooter and he is highly upset. He accuses Mort of stealing his story, "Secret Window," and gives the strung-out author three days to "get it right." Among other things, this means that the alleged author wants ending changed to the way, he says, he wrote it. Mort assures the stranger that he is mistaken. His story was published years ago in Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine. However, the only copy in existence is at his former house, which his ex-wife now owns. Shooter is impatient. Mort’s dog is killed and Amy’s home is burned down. Mort hires a private detective (Charles S. Dutton) for protection, but bodies still begin to pile up. Amy has a boyfriend, Ted (Timothy Hutton), who is as hostile to Mort as Mort is to him. Does Ted want Mort dead?

We begin to wonder if Mort is all there, particularly with his non-stop bemused muttering. In fact, he’s beside himself... literally. Several mov ies have focused on writers with psychotic tendencies: "Basic Instinct," "In som nia," "Adaptation" and Stanley Kub rick’s "The Shining" (which also comes from King). In fact, "Window" borrows one of "The Shining’s" key plot tricks, involving the horrific rehashing of a certain word. I guess the message is: Beware of writers. Maybe, King is trying to tell us something.

By the finale, the movie is more mix ed up than Mort. Other than a few "shock" moments, the easily-anticipated story magically manages to maintain its confusion throughout its predictability.

Like its writer/protagonist, "Secret Win dow" is closed to new ideas.

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