Action Capsule Review

'Open Windows' Toronto After Dark Capsule Review

October 21, 2014Ben Mk


   

More and more people these days are watching movies on their computer screens and other devices, which begs the question: why not have a movie where the story takes place entirely on one? That's the premise behind Open Windows, the third feature (and first English language film) from acclaimed writer/director Nacho Vigolondo. In it, Elijah Wood plays a celebrity blogger caught up in a deadly game of high tech cat-and-mouse with a psychopathic hacker — one in which the life of his favorite actress hangs in the balance.

Wood plays Nick Chambers, an ardent admirer of B-movie star Jill Goddard (Sasha Grey) and owner and operator of the fan site jillgoddard-caught.com. After winning a contest to have dinner with Jill, Nick arrives in his hotel room only to be told she's cancelled their meeting. However, the man who informs him — the mysterious Mr. Chord (Neil Maskell) — offers Nick something much more tantalizing instead: the opportunity to take an exclusive peek into Jill's private life, by spying on her through her cellphone. Nick lets his curiosity get the better of him, but when the situation escalates into kidnapping, he finds himself racing to save Jill's life. Soon, what started out as just fun and games on a computer screen becomes all too real.

The narrative structure is intriguing, and Vigalondo is more than game for exploring its potential as a commentary on society's obsession with technology and celebrity. But while the film starts out promisingly enough, its overly ambitious third act — filled with one too many twists and turns — threatens to derail what could have otherwise been a streamlined thriller. The movie also suffers from a low-budget visual aesthetic, often resembling live-action cutscenes from a mid-nineties videogame. Still, the story itself functions well enough as postmodern suspense with unexpected sci-fi overtones. Just remember to approach Open Windows with an open mind; otherwise resist the urge to walk out and close the theater door behind you.






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