Thursday, 9 October 2014

OPEN WINDOWS - Review By Greg Klymkiw - Playing Toronto After Dark Film Festival 2014

You don't use these open windows to
cool a freshly-baked pie on the sill.
Open Windows (2014)
Dir. Nacho Vigalondo
Starring: Elijah Wood, Sasha Grey, Neil Maskell

Review By Greg Klymkiw

Open windows have many uses.

My favourite is placing a freshly baked pie on the sill to allow it to cool naturally from the breeze gently wafting across it from the great outdoors. That said, we're not here to describe a hole in the wall covered with glass that can open and close and cool pies down.

We're here to talk about open windows on computers - those lovely rectangles which display as many separate files or images as a computer screen will allow. Said open windows allow for the kind of computer multi-tasking needed in this day and age. (I'm using a few even as I write this.)

Open Windows is the clever title of the equally clever and often nail-bitingly suspenseful thriller representing the first English language film by the young Oscar-nominated Spanish director Nacho Vigalondo (Timecrimes, Extraterrestrial).

Nick (Elijah Wood) is a dweeb who wins an online contest to dine with the sexy movie star Jill Goddard (Sasha Grey). When he receives a voice call from Chord (Neil Maskell), a representative from the firm which bestowed the prize, that the contest had been rescinded, Nick is understandably flummoxed. Chord, ever benevolent, decides to assist Nick with a series of online manipulations to have his dream come true anyway.

Chord's complex instructions to Nick require the lad to open more and more windows on his computer screen. Soon, Nick is sucked into Chord's web of deceit. Chord is an ace hacker and psychopath who has created several cyber footsteps implicating Nick in a series of crimes designed to force Jill into publicly masturbating on a video camera and to then continue stalking, kidnapping and killing her.

Nick knows he'll be blamed and we're sucked into a thrilling cat and mouse game between him and the hacker so that Nick can clear his name and keep Jill from being harmed. Much of the film is set in Nick's hotel room and via the open windows of his computer screen and while some might suggest that on paper, the idea of a movie's primary action taking place on a computer screen might be dull, they'd be wrong.

Vigalondo's taught direction and his ultra-cool screenplay results in some extremely harrowing suspense set-pices. Besides, the last third of the film, still involving computers and open windows moves blisteringly to a series of locations, including some hair-raising chase action.

Though the screenplay becomes a tad too convoluted for its own good and results in a bit of wheel-spinning, Open Windows remains a solid suspense thriller, dazzlingly directed and acted with aplomb by all concerned.


Open Windows plays Oct.20 at 7:00pm during the 2014 Toronto After Dark Film Festival.