Secret Window is a 2004 psychological thriller, adapted from Stephen King’s Secret Window, Secret Garden, starring Johnny Depp as an emotionally exhausted writer facing accusations of plagiarism from a mysterious man from Mississippi.
Mort Rainey (Depp) is a binge drinking author of an assortment of disturbing tales (similar to King, perhaps) who is living in his cabin following splitting up with his significant other. Mort sleeps his days away to escape from the emotional trauma associated with his wife and his, subsequent, writer’s block. The monotony of his days are broken by the emergence of John Shooter (John Turturro), a crazed man claiming that one of Rainey’s stories is no different, word for word, from his, barring the ending. Mort goes to great lengths to attempt to vindicate himself to escape the reach of Shooter’s vengeance.
Depp’s performance is nothing short of amazing in regards to his authenticity. It appears as though he is playing a role similar to who he is as a person which ranks this toward the top of his quite impressive resume. Depp's character is sharp and quirky, comparable to a sober Captain Jack Sparrow.
Turturro’s role is equally impressive portraying a tall intimidating southerner bent on his idea of ‘justice’. Turturro allows Shooter to be distant and cold, yet ‘in-your-face’, which creates a dynamic where the actions of Shooter are practically boundless.
The imagery found in the opening shot where the camera pans across a desolate lake then seamlessly continues into the house is, perhaps, the most revealing of the film. While depicting the emptiness that consumes Rainey’s life, through the small cabin amidst a sea of foliage, the ‘through-the-mirror’ shot calls nearly everything into question, including reality. While interpretations of this scene can shift the entire plot of the film, the scene is indicative of the point that the characters may not be dabbling in reality.
In the final scenes of the film, Depp’s character says “The only thing that matters is the ending. It's the most important part of the story.” This quote, alone, is representative of the masterful craftsmanship that produced this film. Roger Ebert writes, “All of this could add up to a straight-faced thriller about things that go boo in the night, but Johnny Depp and director David Koepp (who wrote "Panic Room" and directed "Stir of Echoes") have too much style to let that happen...”