The Bedroom Window Reviews
Aside from casting slice of American cheese Steve Guttenberg as its hero, "The Bedroom Window" is a note-perfect genre riff, a riff unafraid of taking its time to ensure that the stakes get the chance to grow as high as Shaq's POV. Here, Guttenberg is Terry Lambert, a businessman having an affair with his boss's luscious French wife Sylvia (Isabelle Huppert). Following a typically humdrum office party do they head back to Terry's apartment to spend the rest of the evening between the sheets, enjoying each other's company not so much out of a burning love but out of the excitement that comes with partaking in illicit behavior.
But the night takes an unexpected turn when screams are heard outside the apartment and seen is the attempted murder of a young woman, Denise (Elizabeth McGovern). Thanks to Sylvia's intervention is the crime prevented from delving into tragedy. But because she and Terry's relationship is more sexual than emotional, they're reluctant to come forward to help the police find the would-be murderer - throw in a helping hand and they'll expose their relationship, which hardly means anything to either of them anyway.
After some discussion is it decided that Terry, despite only seeing the last few seconds of the near lethal event, will be the one to come forward, the one to name names at the line-up and relay Sylvia's story before a judge. But as it goes with any kind of deception, deception characterized by good intentions or otherwise, the trial uncovers the truth that there's no way Terry could have been the one to see the crime take place, thus allowing for the release of the suspect and the putting in danger of the former and, especially, Sylvia. Only Denise knows the whole truth, and when Terry eventually becomes the prime suspect in the case, she becomes a crucial figure in bringing justice to fruition.
While it has a too-tidy ending that recalls the far-fetched coming together of one of Fred Jones' hare-brained schemes to catch a bad guy, "The Bedroom Window" is otherwise an electric treat - this is a sharp, economic thriller that works with a formula (most notably consummated by 1954's "Rear Window") and still manages to find the sting in it. The suspense terse and the performances impressively able to sell the pulpy material, it can do no wrong. We're immediately enraptured by its story, and writer/director Curtis Hanson (1992's "The Hand That Rocks the Cradle" and 1997's "L.A. Confidential") knows how to keep our investment thriving.
Huppert, though out of her element, particularly complements the machinations: looking straight out of 1946, her thick accent accidentally makes it seem as though she's emulating the presentational acting style of a bad soap opera, and that somehow summarizes the way "The Bedroom Window" is able to concentrate the sum of its parts to a particular (and particularly old) genre - being film noir - and rise the fun out of it once again. McGovern reminds one of the simultaneously competent and doe-eyed Anne Shirley, standing out as a damsel in distress who rids herself of her past victimhood by the film's end.
Because the movie fails to tread on new ground, it's imminent that "The Bedroom Window" be the hidden gem we escape in for 112 minutes only to rid ourselves of like a dirty T-shirt a day or so later. But there isn't anything much wrong with turning into a glassy-eyed popcorn inhaler as long as the action in front of us is effective. Thankfully, the action in this movie is.
Interesting that the critical response is almost twice the audience score. I think Curtis was, all through his career, probably a little too hip for the room, although certainly there were several hits, notably Hollywood Confidential and 8 Mile. But audience's didn't much like The Wonder Boys when it first came out either. Of course, opinions have changed about that and several other of Curtis's films after their first releases. I think eventually he'll be acknowledged as one of Hollywood's best directors. And, beyond that, he was just a wonderful person to work with -- never felt so supported. His suggestions were always exactly right.
The hero (Steve Guttenberg) makes a well-intentioned mistake early in the film with some serious unintended consequences for him later. His white lie turns into a mountain of trouble. There's a cruel logic to what unspools, and his attempts to extricate himself seem perfectly rational, but the noose gets tighter anyway. The twists here are jazzy and (mostly) unpredictable though the last half hour or so isn't quite as sharp as the rest of the film. It loses some plausibility, but that's a minor complaint in a thriller and this is a gem of a movie.
So why is this film nearly forgotten today? Well, first, there's the problem of Steve Guttenberg. You hate him, don't you? I don't think he's nearly as bad an actor as his reputation suggests - he's likable in this - but maybe Hanson should've cast someone with a little more edge. No matter how much I plead this movie's case, you're just not going to watch a Steve Guttenberg movie, are you?
Second is Hanson's unremarkable direction. It doesn't have the visual flair of Hitchcock or the Brian DePalma knockoffs of the time which invites inevitable comparisons. Hanson is an excellent screenwriter, but he didn't really find his footing as a director until the '90s and this movie doesn't have any blatant "film geek" moments. He should've spun his camera around like a nut a couple of times and shot more closeups of eyeballs - maybe even threw in some clowns and split screen. Film nerds eat that stuff up and they'd be discussing its "meaning" to this day. ("Hanson SEES the DIZZINESS of the FRACTURED CIRCUS-LIKE urban experience!") But the script is more logical and believable than any of DePalma's efforts, (and even a fair number of Hitchcock's), and it should be appreciated for that. This is a very entertaining suspenser, if you're a fan of those, and it's severely underrated. 4 stars.