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March 2004

Secret Window
Distributor: Columbia Pictures
Directed by: David Koepp
Produced by: Gavin Polone
Screenplay: David Koepp, based on the novel, "Secret Window, Secret Garden" by Stephen King
Cinematographer: Fred Murphy
Music Composer: Philip Glass
Cast: Johnny Depp, John Turturro, Maria Bello, Charles S. Dutton, & Timothy Hutton

If you are going to see a film that's based off a Stephen King novel, you better be prepared for something offbeat and spooky, and that's what Johnny Depp brings to this latest adaptation, Secret Window. Depp, coming off an Oscar nomination for his performance in "Pirates of the Caribbean", is known for giving films a boost through his wit, bizarre, and diverse appearances. As he did with his last film, but with less action and special effects, Depp once again carries "Secret Window" to a haunting stop. Depp's performance makes this flawed psychological thriller worth watching.

Mort Rainey (Depp) spends his days lying on his couch in his cottage house in upstate New York trying to start his latest novel but he's having writer's block. Laid back in his bathrobe with his hair out of place and walking with his socks, he can't find the will the write. At the same time, he also can't stop thinking about the awful breakup he had with his soon-to-be ex-wife Amy (Bello), who's currently living in the other house with her latest lover (Hutton). One day, some strange guy by the name of Shooter (Turturro) stops by the cabin and tells Mort that he knows Mort that he plagiarized one of his stories. Not only does he want credit for it, but Shooter wants Mort to finish the story. Mort quickly dismisses the disgruntled Shooter as a quack with no proof. Not leaving quietly, Shooter threatens Mort with terrible consequences if his demands are not met. This brings back Amy into the pictures as Mort needs her to help him with this situation. He also enlists the help of a private investigator he used in the past (Dutton). Amy sees this situation as an opportunity for Mort to sign the divorce papers so that she can get on with her life.

As already mention, Depp carries the film through his bizarre looks and expressions. One minute you are led to believe that Shooter is in the right, and the minute you are not. Depp's expressions keep you guessing throughout the film on the validity of Shooter's story. At the same time, any reader of King's stories can see where the film is headed, which is what is flawed about the film. The title of the film is already a hint of things to come. Turturro is terrific as the menace that haunts Mort. Not one to play that sort of role, except for his performance in "Mac", Turturro brings a level of fright to his character. Koepp, who previously directed "Panic Room", does something with the screenplay that you rarely see in films and it's to his credit that Depp can pull it off. From "The Shining" to "Misery", Stephen King has created another character that's a tour de force.