BY PATRICIA DRAZNIN
IN SECRET WINDOW, JOHNNY DEPP takes a sharp left turn out of Disney’s pirate persona into Stephen King’s disturbed writer named Mort Rainey. Rainey has problems. He has writer’s block. His wife is divorcing him. And a man named John Shooter (John Turturro) shows up at his secluded cabin accusing him of plagiarism.
Rainey believes that an old magazine article predating Shooter’s manuscript would prove ownership of his story “Secret Window.” But the situation is complicated. Shooter is a crazed, impatient, and dangerous man. And because the story is shrouded in mystery and surprise, this is the extent of the detail that I am legally permitted to share.
What worked for me was that the film captures some of the intimacy of a stage play. The script calls for few characters, and much of the story takes place in Rainey’s cabin, where he is a finely honed one-man show. Few could convey the complexity as well as Depp. He convinces us of all the things he’s supposed to be—lovable, depressed, stubborn, vulnerable, funny, terrified in the face of danger, and totally human. We feel his pain. We feel his terror. And we feel his anger at his wife Amy (Maria Bello), who has been seeing another man that he despises, and the two are pressuring him to sign divorce papers.
But watching the man who played Pirate Jack Sparrow, George Jung (Blow), Donnie Brasco, and Gilbert Grape, it’s clear that the caliber of Secret Window is less than what we’ve come to expect. What didn’t work for me was that the story was not entirely convincing. In the first half of the movie I had trouble buying into the twisted circumstances. And when the story came to a close and all the mysteries were revealed, the ending seemed plausible but somehow unsatisfying. But I suppose we would have to take this up with Mr. King.