Picks and Pans Review: Rear Window
Show of the week
Last year we had In the Gloaming, a jewel of a family drama that Christopher Reeve directed for HBO. Now here he is as star and coexecutive producer of a worthy TV remake of Alfred Hitchcock's 1954 big-screen thriller. True, this film is something of an advertisement for Reeve's courage and determination since a 1995 riding accident left him a quadriplegic dependent on a breathing vent. But his undisguisable disability—shared, of necessity, by the character he plays—actually gives the new Rear Window more gut-level tension than the original.
In the Hitchcock version, James Stewart spied on neighbors across the courtyard while he was laid up in his apartment with a broken leg. Stewart got the idea that one of the residents had committed and concealed a murder, and he became obsessed with exposing the man. Eventually the villain paid a visit, and Stewart found himself in mortal danger. The remake follows an essentially similar plotline under the direction of Jeff Bleckner (Concealed Enemies), but when the climax comes, Reeve's quadriplegia makes him especially agonizingly vulnerable. He's acting and being, and the suspense is certain to have you squirming.
This Rear Window lacks the sly humor and fluid camera work of the Hitchcock classic. Daryl Hannah is no more than adequate as the protagonist's partner in voyeurism, a role less sexy and stylish than Grace Kelly's in 1954. But the only major flaw is a denouement that teases and confuses us just when we want to sit back and take a deep breath.
Bottom Line: Don't look away from this thriller