SXSW Review: Open Windows


How close are you to your phone right now? Maybe it's in your pocket, or your purse. And what about your laptop? Best to keep those things on you at all times, right? You might think so, but Nacho Vigalondo's latest film Open Windows could leave you wanting to lock those devices in your closet.

I say this (somewhat) ironically as someone who always has her phone in her hand. I know my way around my own personal electronic devices, but I don't expect someone else to. This is where Vigalondo's writing got me: from the start, we're watching Nick Chambers (Elijah Wood) prepare for a date with his celebrity crush, Jill Goddard (Sasha Grey).  He's won a contest online and has flown to Austin to meet her. But we're not just watching as an audience -- we're watching as if we're Nick's laptop camera, observing his every move as if we're on a Skype session with him. And when an unknown caller starts to interfere with Nick's phone and computer, we learn about the scheme he's set to be involved in, realizing that his potential date is actually a setup for blackmail.

I've always been a fan of Wood's work, but I must say that this performance really stood out. We're right there with him, watching everything unfold just as he does in that moment. I found yourself on the edge of my seat, trying to figure out who's behind all of this madness and what their intentions really are. I wish I could have heard what sort of direction Vigalondo gave Grey and Wood, because they both are very good about conveying a sense of urgency and hidden fear in both of their performances.

As an Austinite, I was particularly interested in how one shoots an action film in Austin. Vigalnodo teamed up with Spiderwood Studios for Open Windows, and it seems he is keen on proving to Austinites like myself that this city is capable of more than just the quiet, subtle suburb we often see on screen. (For example, he gives us a pretty stellar car chase at one point throughout the downtown area.)

I left this film asking myself more questions than I thought I would; I even hesitated at looking at my cell phone for a little while.  Is there a "big brother" figure watching us at all times? How easy is it for someone to access all of the devices we believe to be private?

Open Windows will leave you wondering how confidential our lives really are, as well as what sort of presence we're putting out online.  I have to commend Nacho Vigalondo for creating a film that makes you think about your privacy, but also takes you on one hell of a thrilling ride. You certainly don't see many movies like this these days.

Austin connections: The film was shot here in town at Spiderwood Studios. One of the extras was Slackerwood contributor Mike Saulters.