Johnny Depp gets high off another acting challenge in this tricky adaptation of a Stephen King novella. Although the mood is too sinister to allow for the mischief of his Pirates of the Caribbean
turn, Depp still manages to embroider his role here with plenty of quirky business. He plays a writer, depressed and nearly divorced, who's stuck in an isolated cabin (shades of The Shining
) when a stranger (John Turturro) arrives, accusing him of plagiarism. Writer-director David Koepp (Stir of Echoes
) does his best to make the rickety material compelling--he gets the maximum out of the cabin set, for instance--but the problems inherent in the King story eventually win out. The climactic scenes are particularly unpleasant, especially in contrast to the cleverness of Depp's performance. A Philip Glass score adds class, but this one ultimately feels like a disappointment. --Robert Horton
Based on a Stephen King novella, the psychological thriller Secret Window is reminiscent of an Alfred Hitchcock film. Eccentric author Mort Rainey (Johnny Depp) finds his life spiralling out of control. With a drinking problem and a cigarette habit he can't shake, Mort can barely function when his wife (Maria Bello) leaves him and he abandons his work. In the midst of his anguish, a deranged man, John Shooter, (John Turturro) appears at Mort's New York cabin, claiming that Mort has plagiarized one of his stories. As his wife pushes Mort to finalise their divorce and Shooter systematically destroys his life, he struggles to restore order to an increasingly insane situation.
Playing off of Turturro who is superb as the crazed, Gothic Shooter, Johnny Depp shines in this role, delivering a quirky, brilliant performance. The mannerisms he brings to Mort, such as a problem with a clenched jaw, makes the author's descent into madness compelling and believable. With an emphasis on character study over special effects, the chills provided by this film rely on skilled acting and evoke thrillers of earlier generations, such as Psycho and Strangers on a Train, including a shocking twist of an ending.