Sunday, June 28, 2009

Movie Review of REAR WIDOW

Synopsis from Amazon. Com: Like the Greenwich Village courtyard view from its titular portal, Alfred Hitchcock's classic Rear Window is both confined and multileveled: both its story and visual perspective are dictated by its protagonist's imprisonment in his apartment, convalescing in a wheelchair, from which both he and the audience observe the lives of his neighbors. Cheerful voyeurism, as well as the behavior glimpsed among the various tenants, affords a droll comic atmosphere that gradually darkens when he sees clues to what may be a murder.

Photographer L.B. "Jeff" Jeffries (James Stewart) is, in fact, a voyeur by trade, a professional photographer sidelined by an accident while on assignment. His immersion in the human drama (and comedy) visible from his window is a by-product of boredom, underlined by the disapproval of his girlfriend, Lisa (Grace Kelly), and a wisecracking visiting nurse (Thelma Ritter). Yet when the invalid wife of Lars Thorwald (Raymond Burr) disappears, Jeff enlists the two women to help him to determine whether she's really left town, as Thorwald insists, or been murdered.

Hitchcock scholar Donald Spoto convincingly argues that the crime at the center of this mystery is the MacGuffin--a mere pretext--in a film that's more interested in the implications of Jeff's sentinel perspective. We actually learn more about the lives of the other neighbors (given generic names by Jeff, even as he's drawn into their lives) he, and we, watch undetected than we do the putative murderer and his victim. Jeff's evident fear of intimacy and commitment with the elegant, adoring Lisa provides the other vital thread to the script, one woven not only into the couple's own relationship, but reflected and even commented upon through the various neighbors' lives.

At minimum, Hitchcock's skill at making us accomplices to Jeff's spying, coupled with an ingenious escalation of suspense as the teasingly vague evidence coalesces into ominous proof, deliver a superb thriller spiked with droll humor, right up to its nail-biting, nightmarish climax. At deeper levels, however, Rear Window plumbs issues of moral responsibility and emotional honesty, while offering further proof (were any needed) of the director's brilliance as a visual storyteller.

My Review: This movie was a little creepy for me. Not in a scary sense but in a uncomfortable way. Can you imagine your neighbors looking in your window? Or in the reverse can you see yourself spying into the lives of your neighbors? Would you be surprised at what you would find?

James Stewart plays the character of Jeff who has a broken leg who has nothing better to do but look at his neighbors. At first it was just to pass the time but then stuff happens. Grace Kelly play his lovely girlfriend Lisa. Both actors were believable in their characters. The movie held my attention even though I had to watch it twice because I had so many distractions. His nurse played by Thelma Ritter is great too. Jeff pulls these two women into his voyeuristic world.

The cinematography was excellent shot in technicolor the DVD restored its original form. This one of my favorite films from Hitchcock after Psycho and The Birds. The set was shot entirely in the studio.

I would recommend this to anyone its a great mystery with a touch of voyeurism you feel like you are actually in the small apartment with them.



heidenkind said...

This is a really good movie, although it's not one of my favorites. I think there are just too many things that bother me about it. But it's perfectly shot and scripted, and I can see why it's one of Hitchcock's most famous films.

Shannansbooks said...

Yes, me too. I look forward to watching Psycho that is one of my favorites.

Ruth said...

I love this movie. I think what's so creepy and compelling about it is that it makes you think about what you show others - and how that informs their view of you.