Picks and Pans Review: The Bedroom Window

updated 01/26/1987 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 01/26/1987 AT 01:00 AM EST

Welcome to Hitchcock territory. The daring is missing, ditto the moral ambiguity that can lift a suspense picture to the rarefied level of art—Master Alfred's Rear Window, for example. But why kick? Writer-director Curtis (Losin' It) Hanson has come up with a sexy thriller sure to hold an audience in thrall. Hanson uses real characters to draw you in, instead of gore tactics and grating music. Steve (Cocoon) Guttenberg plays an open-faced Baltimore executive who lucks out with the boss's sultry French wife (Isabelle Huppert) at an office party. Back at his apartment, the two put real heat into their lovemaking. The scene evokes the opening of Psycho, in which lover John Gavin plays with Janet Leigh's bra (Huppert doesn't wear a bra but Guttenberg plays anyway). Later, while Guttenberg is in the shower, Huppert gazes out the window to see a brutal attack on a young woman (Elizabeth McGovern), who barely escapes alive. Huppert, fearing her jealous husband, refuses to be a witness. Conscience-ridden, Guttenberg pretends that her description of the would-be rapist-murderer is his own. When a shrewd lawyer, performed with snit and polish by Wallace Shawn, trips him up in court, Guttenberg finds himself the prime suspect. In true Hitchcock fashion, the innocent man must prove his innocence. Amazingly, the familiar is still fun, especially with Hanson's new twists. Guttenberg, finding the heart in his shallow yuppie hero, has never been more appealing. When he teams with the enchanting McGovern to trap the killer, romance flourishes, with charm filling in most of the credibility gaps. But the movie's sizzle comes from Huppert, a wow in or out of her fancy wardrobe, who can move from torrid ardor to cool bitchery in a second. This may be the star-making role she thought she had in Heaven's Gate. The Bedroom Window has the look of a box-office sleeper, adroitly fulfilling the condition essential to a good thriller: Just when you think you've seen it all, you haven't. (R)

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