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The Bedroom Window

1 rating: 4.0
A movie
1 review about The Bedroom Window

Isabelle Huppert is to die for. And you might.

  • Nov 6, 2011
Rating:
+4
If you consider The Bedroom Window as among writer-director Curtis Hanson’s training wheels, you might find it as interesting – and a little disappointing – as I do.
 
The setup is clever and the potential for a harrowing ride includes violence, misdirection and one first-rate acting job by Isabelle Huppert. The downside is the last third of the movie and the bland, soft-sided performances by Steve Guttenberg and Elizabeth McGovern.
 
Terry Lambert (Guttenberg) is a young man with a puppy-like personality. He’s endearing, reasonably smart, and wants to do the right thing if it doesn’t cost too much. Sylvia Wentworth (Huppert) is a beautiful, sophisticated woman who sees no particular reason why she can’t have an eager lover, e.g. Terry, on the side as well as a wealthy husband. Terry can’t believe his good luck. And Sylvia’s husband is Terry’s boss. Late one evening from Terry’s bedroom window, Sylvia sees a young woman being assaulted by a murderous and odd-looking man. He runs off when he looks up and sees Sylvia. Terry decides he can use Sylvia’s description of the man to give to the police when Sylvia says she cannot afford to be involved. Terry does…and finds himself far more involved with the police, with a trial and with a serial killer than he expected to be. The trial takes place and Sylvia attempts to coach Terry when the defense attorney (Wallace Shawn) springs a trap. The killer notices…and now he knows the real person who can identify him. He decides to go after Sylvia.  So far, so good.
 
We’ll skip a bit here. For the last act, Denise (McGovern) who was the victim of the assault, contacts Terry and convinces him they must catch the killer. Now the plot loses its cleverness and becomes much more routine. We have plain old Hollywood suspense, a chase, near misses and with the cavalry (the police) arriving in the nick of time. Will Terry and Denise, a wise but vulnerable barmaid, find happiness? It might happen.
 
While Guttenberg gives a pleasant enough performance, there’s not much there for us to identify with, except his good fortune with Huppert. He’s just a nice guy. McGovern has limitations as an actress. Sometimes she’s very good, as when she pursues Terry to get his help. Other times she’s almost embarrassing, as when she’s trying to play a floozy in order to interest the killer.
 
Huppert, on the other hand, gives us an expert portrayal of a beautiful woman of the world, amused by life and amused by Terry, but pleasantly surprised by the comforts he brings to her bed. She doesn’t love Terry. That would be far too middle-class for Sylvia. And as Terry finally understands, she has a core of realism about life. She’s not about to jeopardize her life and station to help anyone. It’s a marvelously subtle performance, given with a tone of voice, a glance, a frown.
 
For the soon to be writer/director of L. A. Confidential, a near-perfect movie of corruption, underhanded humor, matter-of-fact brutality and clever plotting, I’m more than happy to give Hanson the benefit of the doubt with The Bedroom Window.
Isabelle Huppert is to die for. And you might. Isabelle Huppert is to die for. And you might. Isabelle Huppert is to die for. And you might. Isabelle Huppert is to die for. And you might.

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