> Volume 6 > Number 11


David Koepp

Johnny Depp
John Turturro
Maria Bello
Timothy Hutton
Charles S. Dutton

Release: 12 Mar. 04

Secret Window


A writerís loneliness can be a compelling theme, and Stanley Kubrick previously proved that taking a mediocre Stephen King premise and expanding on it can make the subject perfect for cinema. David Koepp tries to do the same with Kingís novella, Secret Windows, Secret Gardens, dropping the second half of the title and likely any suspense previously present in the source material.

Iím not a fan of King for the most part. Although I consider Misery a masterpiece, most of his work has done little for me -- often I consider the film variations on his stories to be superior. But at least he knows how to get a jolt out of a reader, even if itís unearned. Thereís nothing comparable in Secret Window, a film that piddles along at a pace form-fitted for the audience to guess what will happen next. Itís concluding twist is predictable by the end of the opening credits, which is terribly painful when one considers that the actor whose time is wasted is Johnny Depp, currently on top of his game.

Deppís Mort Rainey is a proxy for King, a prolific pulp writer who is now struggling to put together his next work. Questioned by a Mississippi hick (John Turturro seems to be channeling Robert Mitchum in The Night of the Hunter as an Amish scribe) who thinks Rainey plagiarized one of his short stories, the pieces that make up the filmís puzzle become too easy to piece together. As a commentary on Richard Bachman, this film might have had some teeth, but nothing it says means much more than a directorís failed attempts to create tension. Certainly, thereís not enough here to believe the original story is near the magnificence of Misery, which is a book that kicks the ass of its especially well-made film adaptation, but one cannot help but feel that Koepp is bastardizing a marginal, but respectable novella. Depp only serves to remind the audience that there once was something to the project that drew him to the character, even if itís lost in Koeppís mess

©2004, David Perry,, 12 March 2004