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I know that I read "Secret Window, Secret Garden," the Stephen King novella that was the basis for David Koepp's 2004 film, but I had no conscious memory of the story when I sat down to watch the movie. But either I remembered something deep down inside or it was a mistake to cast Timothy Hutton, who starred in movie version of King's "The Dark Half," in a supporting role in this film because I quickly got to the point where I was wondering if I was reading the film wrong simply because it seemed so obvious to me what was going on.
The main attraction here is Johnny Depp, because he is one actor who can be counted on never to do anything boring and whose flair for eccentricity and his devotion to odd roles is now being taken as a sign of genius. Depp plays Mort Rainey, a writer who is out in the woods in a cabin, starring at a poorly written opening paragraph that is not getting any better. It soon becomes clear that his writer's block is the result of the fact he is in divorcing proceedings with his wife, Amy (Maria Bello); the opening scene of the film shows us the heart of that trauma. Struggling to deal with these twin demons Rainey is confronted by the sudden appearance of John Shooter (John Turturro), a forbidding looking figure who accuses the writer of plagiarizing a story and demands he put things to rights.
Mort is conflicted about his marriage and has no idea what to do with the blank sheet of paper in his typewriter. He wants to be definite about having written the story "Secret Window," but apparently in his deep dark past he plagiarized a story once and given the state he was in when he wrote the story, there just might be something about Shooter's claim. Clearly Mort is at a crossroads where his future could well be in peril (Come on, this is a Stephen King story; this guy is toast).
Depp's performance is captivating. It has to be, because he has a lot of scenes where it is just him and his blind dog or the mirror on the wall. But do not neglect the work of screenwriter-director Koepp ("Panic Room"), which you are not really going to be able to appreciate until the second time you watch "Secret Window" (in between watch the featurettes where the director give some key insights into what he was trying to do with the film). I would probably have liked this film more if I had gotten so far ahead of the curve, but I am still impressed with the craftsmanship of the lead actor and the director
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on March 13, 2004
'Secret Window' wasn't as good as I expected, but that's just because it wasn't the film I thought it was going to be. The trailers for the movie make it look full of action, and very scary, which is slightly misleading. The film starts quite slow, but Johnny Depp manages to carry it well (with a less talented actor, the movie would probably have been 3 stars, maybe even lower). There were some frightening moments, but none that really affected me or that I remembered. In fact, the film was actually more gory than it was scary.
Johnny Depp's acting is, of course, superb which really brings the rating of the movie up. I actually enjoyed the comedic moments in the movie quite a bit more than the 'horrific' parts. I liked the plot, and the ending, but I found that I predicted the ending slightly earlier in the film than I usually do. I would probably recommend waiting and renting this film. It's much cheaper than spending what seems like a fortune nowadays to see it in theaters. Not seeing it on the big screen isn't a huge downfall either, as there isn't a lot of action.
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on July 31, 2004
The secret window is a very clever movie that I enjoyed a lot. Johnny Depp once again shows why he is one of the great actors of our time. He played this role very well as a writer who is struggling with his divorce from his wife. Depps wife, played by Maria Bello, has had an affair and is now with the man with whom she had the affair. Depp begins getting a visit from a Mississippi farmer named Shooter claiming Depp stole one of his stories and changed the ending. Without giving away too much the Man begins to torment Depp so he will admit to stealing his story.

The acting in this movie was very good as well as visualization. The person that plays shooter does a very good job. The is very predictable but that should detour you from getting this movie it is still good
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on November 23, 2014
This is a rare look into the devolving mind of a man. Stephen King once again ***Spoiler Alert*** looks into the world of the dual personality or alter ego if you will. Johnny Depp plays a writer who catches his wife in bed with another man. He goes to his cabin in the woods after he separates from his wife to work on his next book. To battle his anger/depression over the loss of his marriage he sleeps a lot. One day he is awoken from a sleep by a man who claims he stole his book.This man John Shooter just wants Depp's character to rewrite the ending of the book and put his name to it. Depp's character wants to prove to Shooter that he did not steal the story. Shooter on the other hand will go to any length to stop Depps' character including committing murder and framing Depp's character. There are a multitude of clues throughout the movie about what's really going on, but it's not until the every end that you find out. ***Spoiler Alert Over***

This was one of King's better movies, he has had so many great movies, but this ranks up there with the top 5.

Ralph
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on February 27, 2007
Okay that other guy who reviewed this is insane as H.

This movie is awesome. Johnny Depp gives a brilliant performance as author Mort Rainey. If you read the book then you know the story and hopefully you also know that movies won't ever be completely the same as the book. So don't be mad at the movie just get used to it.
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Johnny Depp is a chameleon. He never seems to play the same character twice in any film. Granted, he brings many of the memorable traits of other films into each of his performances, but he's never boring. Depp is the main reason to see SECRET WINDOW. He plays writer Mort Raney, a somewhat successful author, who is going through the pains of an impending divorce. One day, a stranger knocks at his door and accuses Mort of stealing his short story, "Secret Window." What a strange man...in a Quakerish style hat, with a rich Southern drawl, and cold, clinical eyes. John Turturro is wonderful in this role, bringing an inevitable demonic presence into Depp's tortured life.

Although the outcome may be apparent, it doesn't really hit you until the director David Koepp wants it to. Depp's performance is great, including his habit of cracking his jaws whenever things get a little nervous. Maria Bello and Timoth Hutton as his estranged wife and her lover perform adequately, but they are really more plot tools than characters. Charles Dutton, likewise, isn't given a whole lot to do, but his presence is commanding. Veteran character actor Len Cariou is also good in his role as the local sheriff.

SECRET WINDOW is a quietly suspenseful movie; it's not really a "scary" movie, but more of an intense portrayal of a man's descent into madness. Depp was perfect for the role.
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on May 26, 2005
Facts first: Secret Window is based - loosely - on a novella by Stephen King. I've never read the book, but I did love the movie, and let me tell you why.

Secret Window is about a writer by the name of Morton Rainey (played brilliantly as usual by Johnny Depp) who is in the middle of a nasty divorce from his wife Amy (Maria Bello). Mort suffers from a bad case of writer's block, probably caused more by the fact that he caught Amy with Ted Milner (Timothy Hutton) than anything else. He lives in an isolated cabin in the middle of the woods a good few miles from the nearest town, and is in such a mess that he can't even bring himself to sign the divorce papers.

Enter John Shooter (played with quiet, menacing conviction by John Turturro), a Mississippi farmer who shows up on Mort's doorstep with an accusation of plagiarism. Turturro is great, but perhaps a tad underused in this film. His Southern drawl adds a strange element of creepiness to his performance here, and his most memorable line is, "I'll burn your life and everyone in it like a cornfield in a high wind", which despite its almost cliched threat, is delivered convincingly enough for me to have rated this movie as deserving of five stars.

Mort's life proceeds to descend into absolute chaos. His dog is killed, an old man from town is killed, his private detective is killed...the suspense is nail-biting. David Koepp's directing is fantastic, and upheld nicely by Fred Murphy's moody cinematography and Philip Glass's appropriately menacing score.

The ending in particular was a work of master genius, and as Mort says numerous times, the ending is the most important part of the story. As a writer myself, I tend to agree, and this one does not disappoint. I personally am not a big fan of happy endings, and if you're anything like me, you'll absolutely adore this one. It took my breath away.

Call me biased, but I found Secret Window to be an excellently crafted and dramatic piece. The script calls for Depp to be alone most of the time, and he carries it off marvellously with a certain claustrophobic twitchiness. Mort's quirks and tics speak volumes about Depp's ability as an actor: the character is confused, driven, horrified, furious and depressed, and sometimes more than one of these at any given moment. Worse yet, Depp can't hide from his pretty face: all the things about Mort's appearance that should turn anyone in their right mind off - wild blond-streaked hair with dark roots, a filthy, ratty bathrobe, glasses, even braces - only serve to accentuate the perfection of one of Hollywood's most intriguing actors.

Go see this movie, especially if you hate happy endings. The plot won't disappoint you, the score is good, and there are some genuinely thrilling parts. If you find the plot growing predictable, however, keep your eye on Depp as he turns increasingly inventive and morbidly comic, and watch for details, like what Mort has half-open on his coffee table.

The bottom line: the strength of Depp's performance alone makes Secret Window worthwhile to watch.

Me? I bought the damn DVD.
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on January 5, 2015
The first time I watched this movie I was rather confused at first and couldn't believe the Johnny Depp character was putting up with the Shooter character. I almost quit watching it midstream. For me, it was towards the end it all came out and I realized what an incredibly brilliant movie this really was......so brilliant I have watched it more than half a dozen times more to keep catching all of the innuendos I didn't get at first. Compelling. A must watch. Full of suspense without any real gore (I DO NOT watch gore). A psychological thriller!!!
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on May 13, 2004
I thought "Secret Window" was a fantastic movie. Ebert & Ropert gave the film two thumbs up and I couldn't agree more. Johnny Depp plays the lead character Mort Rainey. Mort is a novel writer who is confronted by a man named John Shooter(John Tuturro). Shooter claims that Mort stole his story and ruined the ending to it. Shooter refuses to leave Mort alone until he fixes the ending of his story. Depp is outstanding in the movie and his performance alone is enough to recommend the movie. Some have claimed the film's pace to be too slow, but I feel it is very methodically and wonderfully paced.One of Depp's brilliant lines in the movie is " It's all about the ending. Nothing matters but the ending. And this one is very good...this one is perfect." I thought that line is an excellent description of the movie's great ending and "secret" twist. I will definitely be buying this DVD when it arrives on June 22. I also strongly recommend Depp in the "Pirates of the Caribbean" and "Blow". Depp is outstanding in both films. Secret Window..some windows should never be opened..
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on July 10, 2016
If you love suspense and great acting, this is one you'll want to see. Depp is great as usual and the supporting actors provide great layers of interaction. Loved this film the first time I saw it and couldn't wait to add it to my collection.
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