By Don R. Lewis | January 27, 2006

“Open Window,” the directorial debut of Mia Goldman, is a peculiar film. It starts off as a compelling, quiet character study into what happens when a horrible, senseless crime is perpetrated on a person. However halfway through, the film turns into a bizarre family drama that borders on the cheesy side.

Peter and Izzy are a happy young couple in love. Everything seems to be perfect in their world. Peter even finds the courage to propose to Izzy. Life is peachy. One night a stranger breaks in and a horrific, violent scene changes the course of the relationship as well as Peter and Izzy’s lives forever. We see Peter and Izzy try and cope with the event and the film handles the subject well with some great subtleties. Then, like a bull in a china factory, Izzy’s mom (played by the obnoxious Cybill Shepard) barges in and takes the movie into something you might see on the Lifetime channel. Why the film takes such a strange, drastic turn is beyond me and I wish it had stayed it’s original course.

The title “Open Window” is multi-sided. An open window leads to the crime, yet the crime itself opens a window to these characters lives. Open windows also come into play throughout the film. However any interesting meditation on how people deal with trauma is thrown out said window by the blundering Martha Stewart-esque Shepard as well as Elliott Gould as Izzy’s dad. Seeing Gould onscreen is always like seeing an old friend. That face, that voice…it’s terrific. However here he’s playing the exact same character he played in Noah Baumbach’s “Kicking and Screaming” sans the divorce. Baumbach should sue for copyright infringement or something.

Robin Tunney as Izzy is amazing. She has such charisma and depth onscreen that you have no trouble feeling empathy for her character. While I felt the film didn’t feel realistic towards the end in terms of Izzy’s journey, Tunney shines throughout. I also like how the film dealt with the male perspective of trauma. When things happen to a wife or girlfriend, men want to fix it and in situations like the one in “Open Window,” are not ours to fix. The film deals with this idea really well. However I just couldn’t buy into the way the film veered into a family drama when it started out so confidently.

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