Hitchcock’s domestic horror.
Rear Window is probably Hitchcock’s second-most-known film behind Psycho. The story has been retold, parodied, and referenced countless times. The films has a 100% on Rotten Tomatoes, which seems a little inflated to me. The film is good, yes, but it isn’t the best movie ever.
The film follows Jeff and Lisa (James Stewart and Grace Kelly) as he is waiting for his leg to heal from a photography accident. Their relationship is on the rocks, as Jeff does not want to marry her because “she is too perfect.” Instead of his usual international adventures as a photographer, he is trapped in his apartment and bored out of his mind. He spends most of the day napping or watching his neighbors out the rear window (dun, dun, dun).
Lisa does everything she can for Jeff, despite his efforts to push her away. His treatment of her is a little jarring, and the indifference and cruelty that he shows her makes them a questionable duo. One of them must change if the relationship is going to work—and since this is 1954, we can damn sure bet it isn’t going to be the man. The problem I have with this portion of the story is that it makes me not sympathetic to the characters. Granted, they feel real, and I think this is something that Hitchcock was going for.
Oddly, the main characters are inconsequential to the most interesting aspects of the film. What would you do if you saw your neighbor committing a crime? Or you saw something suspicious enough to cause fear? We join Jeff as he watches a neighbor through his binoculars and camera lens. He sees a lot of circumstantial evidence for wrong-doing, but nothing concrete.
Unfortunately, anyone who knew they were watching a Hitchcock film can guess that yes, a crime did occur. However, the film does well to make us wonder. Could it be that Jeff is just so bored he is letting his imagination run wild? His detective friend certainly thinks so, and it is not until very late in the movie that we get anything solid to show a crime did occur. Oddly, I think I would have preferred the movie if it all had been in Jeff’s mind.
The directing is (as usual for Hitchcock) top-notch. Despite the characters not being the most likable duo, they are both sharp and witty. One thing that I have always loved about this movie is that we as the viewer are also stuck in Jeff’s apartment, which makes us feel like amateur detectives with him and Lisa. The only other movie that has ever made me feel like I was part of the team was John Carpenter’s The Thing. However the directors accomplish this makes these movies a ton of fun.
You might be wondering why I said 100% on RT was too high, and then praise the film throughout the whole review more or less. It is a good movie, one that I highly suggest everyone watching, but it isn’t the best thing ever. The characters are dated, which might irk some viewers. The plot is so well known that the odds of actually being surprised are slim. These negatives are slightly unfair, as I am linking issues that did not exist when the film was released, but such is the nature of time. The fact that this movie is still so damn good despite some of the aspects not aging well is a huge credit to Hitchcock’s talent as a storyteller. See this movie, but don’t expect it to make your skull split open out of amazement. 9/10