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film criticism by maryann johanson | since 1997

Open Window (review)

This “labor of love,” as writer-director Mia Goldman describes her feature debut on the commentary track she shares with her “key collaborators” (producers, cinematographer, editor), is intended as a counter to the onslaught of cinematic violence that typically assaults us and yet “divorces us from an experience of a violent act.” It’s also based on her own understanding as a woman who was stalked, raped, and now lives with the aftermath of that experience, which is perhaps why it avoids all the overblown histrionics of other similar films that have dealt with such subject matter — see the output of the Lifetime cable network, for instance — and finds the quiet but difficult core of the act of will that is survival and recovery. When photographer Izzy (Robin Tunney: TV’s Prison Break; Goldman tailored the role for her) is raped in her own home by a stranger who’d stalked her, it throws her relationship with fiancé Peter (Joel Edgerton: Smokin’ Aces) into disarray, and upends her complicated bonds with her parents, too. In one stunning scene, Izzy has to comfort her mother, played by Cybill Shepherd (Martha, Inc.), when daughter tells mom the news of her attack. Goldman plays it so paradoxically serenely that neither character appears to recognize that the emotional equation you might expect from such a moment has been entirely reversed. And yet, this is precisely the irony grief and deep upset often prompt. The small film — and the rangy, intense performances that bring it to life — will stick with you long after it’s over. The DVD also includes multiple making-of featurettes, the film’s trailer, and a PSA about rape.


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MPAA: rated R for violence involving rape, language, some sexuality and nudity

viewed at home on a small screen

official site | IMDb
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