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JLFM's Movie Reviews (152)

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Rear Window 
A Thrill-less Thriller
2/4 stars

*This review contains spoilers*

This is perhaps the most disappointing film I've seen all year. Despite brief moments of brilliance and a clever premise, Rear Window is a confused, often tedious, and mostly uninteresting thriller. The film's suspense is all contained within the last half hour, though much of the suspense is diluted through obvious character oversights and a curiously stupid villain.

L.B. Jefferies, a photographer, is confined to his apartment after breaking his leg on the job. With nothing else to do, he passes time by spying on the neighbors through their windows from his room, as he has an excellent view. But things get interesting (at least for Jefferies) when he notices suspicious behavior from one of the neighbors. Jefferies believes there to be a murder, but needs his girlfriend, Lisa and his nurse, Stella, to help him get evidence.

The majority of the film is just plain dull. While I like the premise that the whole film basically takes place from Jefferies' apartment as he spies on a potential murderer, the execution of this concept is sketchy at best.

It's sad how much potential this film had. Looking into the lives of others from Jefferies apartment is often entertaining and also innovative. The cinematography here is great, and the event organization impresses me. And yet, the film's greatest strength is also the film's greatest flaw.

The problem is, this aspect of the film is done so well, and made so interesting, it's nearly impossible to care at all about this relatively generic murder/paranoia case when you're much more curious about the various hinted sub-plots.

The murder doesn't actually occur until around 30 minutes into the movie, and there's a lot of speculation before any serious investigation. In other words, this movie is very dull for a very long time. For almost an hour and a half of this two hour film I was completely and utterly bored. The plot is dull, the sub-plots are under-used, the characters are mostly uninteresting, and there's little to care about.

However, once we get to the final half hour, things get interesting. A dog dies. There's an upset. And the suspense stars to kick in. Some daring moves are made, and then we get to absurdly idiotic finale. This is where I went from being interested in the main plot for the first time in the film, to almost yelling at the characters onscreen for being such imbeciles.

We see the villain advancing towards Jefferies, intent on killing him. Jefferies fends him off by setting off camera flash-bulbs, which temporarily blind him. The villain does a number of stupid things here. For one, as opposed for charging the crippled Jefferies, the villain slowly plods towards him, giving Jefferies plenty of time to call for help, prepare flash bulbs, etc. Then, the villain has the stupidity not to shield his eyes from the flash. I could excuse this the first time and even the second time. But after four flashes, with Jefferies covering his eyes each time beforehand, you'd think the villain would have the sense to at least close his eyes.

The actors are fine, but no one gives a memorable performance. This may be due to the unmemorable characters. L.B. Jefferies (James Stewart) has only two defining characteristics: he's cranky and he's nosy. Lisa Fremont (Grace Kelly) is the cliche love interest with little personality. The saving grace in the acting department is Thelma Ritter as Jefferies' nurse Stella. She's funny, she gets the film's only chuckles, and she's smart too (unlike most of the other characters).

The ambient music (composed by Franz Waxman) is unique and adds character to the environment. Mostly piano and jazz pieces, the score adds an element of almost-creepiness to the production.

I truly don't understand how this mostly mediocre "thriller" has achieved so much acclaim. Rear Window isn't outright bad, it's just not good. Rear Window's enormous potential is wasted on a generic murder case and a bland cast. I truly wish I had enjoyed this movie more, and yet, Rear Window gave me no reason to enjoy it.

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