Nacho Vigalondo’s ambitious cyber thriller Open Windows starts off strong but ultimately adds in so many layers that the story becomes indecipherable. The ‘windows’ of the title refers to windows opened on a computer screen, and as happens when too many are opened at the same time on an actual computer, the film slogs down with the additional windows involved in the story. By the time the end does come and there’s a semblance of a resolution as to who did what to whom, you’re left wanting to do a hard reboot to clean things up and start over.
Visually, the production design and cinematography perfectly capture this seedy voyeuristic world of internet hacking and spying. It’s not much of a stretch to accept the idea of hidden cameras and live streaming of the victimization of a sexy celebrity, but where Open Windows falters is in trying to take the story too many different directions and by adding in assorted players who dilute the impact the film could have had on viewers.
Elijah Wood plays Nick Chambers, the webmaster of a fan site for celebrity Jill Goddard (Sasha Grey…yes, that Sasha Grey). He’s been promised a date with Jill as part of a prize package he won, but unfortunately for superfan Nick, she backs out of the dinner, something he’s informed of by Chord (Neil Maskell) who offers him the opportunity to spy on her as a consolation prize of sorts since he won’t actually have the chance to be with her face-to-face. That offer sets off a chain of events that leads to Nick becoming a pawn in a much larger game in which he’s alternately being manipulated and acting as the manipulator.
The Bottom Line:
Wood’s in nearly every frame and he does a fine job of feeding out information to the audience, a difficult task as the rules and players constantly change and an actual list of the players and their intentions becomes necessary. Casting adult film star Grey as the female being manipulated by sexually aroused males actually makes sense, and Grey does handle her part – and her few lines of dialogue – well. There’s a genuine vulnerableness to performance as she’s being forced to reveal herself to strangers on the internet that’s actually kind of touching.
But Vigalondo’s Open Windows wastes Wood and Grey’s performances in an unnecessarily convoluted story. Strip the tale down to its bare essence and Open Windows would have been a timely moral tale of celebrity worship and internet hacking. Instead, in attempting to do too much, it neutralizes the impact of the film and lessens its entertainment value.
-By Rebecca Murray
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