Crime, Thriller

Windows (1980)

0 Comments 12 July 2012

Studio: MGM

Theatrical Release: January 18, 1980

DVD-R Release: June 28, 2012

Director: Gordon Willis

R

Review by James Klein

Windows is the only film that the great Gordon Willis directed. Unless you are a film nerd like myself, Willis is a master cinematographer and has worked on films such as the Godfather movies and some of Woody Allen’s best films. Known as “The Prince of Darkness” because of his use of shadows, Willis was never fond of moving the camera too much which allowed actors to actually act (probably why Willis retired in the mid 90’s, when films were no longer films but music videos with constant editing…I can start on a rant about my love for the 1970’s cinema but I won’t bore you with it). While Windows looks amazing, there is a reason why Willis only directed one film, which has been mostly forgotten until now.

Talia Shire (Rocky, The Godfather, Prophecy) plays Emily, a single gal living alone with her cat in a small NYC apartment building. The film begins with Emily’s rape. Emily comes home and is attacked by a strange man who assaults her at knife point in her own home. As he forces the knife to her throat and soon in her mouth, he pulls out a tape recorder and records her cries and moans. The scene is tastefully done and shot with many dark shadows (don’t expect a Last House on the Left/I Spit On Your Grave rape) which soon dissolves to later on that day as the police are questioning Emily on what happened to her. When Emily’s neighbor Andrea barges into Emily’ apartment asking what happened, the viewer gets the sense that this nosey neighbor is a bit…off.

Traumatized by what happened to her, Emily moves to a new apartment and slowly builds a relationship with Bob, the officer who was at the scene of her rape. However, Andrea is constantly calling/arriving at her place, even offering to have Emily stay with her and buying her flowers. Her obsession is oblivious to Emily, who just doesn’t seem to be the sharpest knife in the drawer. When Andrea one night meets up with Emily’s rapist and is handed the tape recorder of her screams and moans, one quickly finds out that Andrea is a lunatic and was in on the rape.

While I enjoyed the basic premise of the film and liked the twist (even though the twist comes very early in the picture, thus killing the suspense) Windows is just a bore. Willis is just not an actors’ director. All the performances come off as wooden or fake. I was bored by Emily’s constant crying or Andrea’s goofy faces or Bob’s blank expressions. Shire, who I typically like in most films, is just bland. It doesn’t help that the viewer gets rarely a glimpse of these character’s backgrounds or even know who these characters really are. Is Andrea a lesbian? Why does she have it out for Emily? Did Emily use to have a stuttering problem? What happened to her boyfriend in the beginning of the movie? None of this is ever explained.

I think Windows may have been a bit more suspenseful to me if I hadn’t seen the countless rip-offs done in the 1990’s. Single White Female and The Hand That Rocks the Cradle are very similar to Windows. While the film at the time was over a decade old, the two films from the 90’s had more energy to them where Windows is trying to be an art house suspense film which just doesn’t work. Even the title itself, Windows, is just boring and plain sounding. There is a reason why this film has been forgotten until now.

MGM’s DVD-R seems to have some problems as well. The print seems to have been damaged and there are plenty of scratches that fill the frame most of the time. The picture looks clear and the colors seem to be fine so I would say that MGM did the best job it could do with what it had. Aside from being presented in the original 1:85 ratio, there are no special features available, not even a trailer. Pretty dull…which is all the more fitting.

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