The Woman In The Window was originally scheduled to be released in cinemas in 2019 but after a few test-screenings the film was delayed for re-edits (which is never a good sign). The Coronavirus pandemic then scuppered the 2020 release date so the film was then sold to Netflix who release this belated movie today. Netflix’ own blurb describes this film as: “Confined to her home by agoraphobia, a psychologist becomes obsessed with her new neighbors – and solving a brutal crime she witnesses from her window”. This sounds very intriguing but unfortunately, The Woman In The Window is anything but. Based on the 2018 novel by A.J. Finn, this movie translation is described as a psychological thriller or a gripping drama online but it’s not either. Agoraphobia and murder in a New York City brownstone condo has so much potential, but this film disappoints both in terms of visuals and content. Unless you’re a fan of Amy Adams, there’s almost no reason to watch this flick…
Amy Adams plays Dr. Anna Fox, the lead agoraphobic of the piece and she’s the only thing that kept me from switching this mediocre film off. The Woman In The Window has aspirations of being an Alfred Hitchcock or a Brian De Palma-type movie, and it has echoes of Rear Window, Body Double, What Lies Beneath, and even Copycat but this crap isn’t in the same league as any of those films; it’s not taut, it’s not tense, it’s not thrilling, it’s more trite. Someone witnessing a murder followed by nobody believing them isn’t an original concept but it’s a start-point for what should be a riveting thriller. So how does someone make this plot so boring?
This movie is directed by Joe Wright who’s responsible for the overrated and revisionist Darkest Hour, a film he apparently called a “rebuke to Donald Trump” which would be fine had Winston Churchill himself not been a roaring bigot. Add that to the fact Wright made the godawful Pan with its whitewashed casting, and it’s safe to say that I’m not a fan of Joe. Not being an admirer of a director doesn’t always mean I despise all their films. Action-twat Michael Bay for instance, has made a couple of entertaining films and I don’t mind admitting that fact. All of Joe Wright’s films however (at least those that I’ve watched) have an air of pretentiousness and this, his latest film is no different. His direction feels less like Alfred Hitchcock and more like Brad Anderson; dull and very hollow. To make up for his general drabness, Wright inserts random ingredients such as an out-of-place blood spatter and zoom when Anna looks across the road in the aftermath of the murder, which looks like an afterthought or something edited-in to keep the audience from falling asleep.
The screenplay for The Woman In The Window is written by Tracy Letts who also makes an appearance in the film as Dr. Landy. Letts wrote the underrated Bug but this script is not as meaningful or as coherent. Much of the interaction between characters feels oddly detached and thanks to Wright, it looks like it was filmed on different occasions and edited together. There’s lots of dialogue that sounds almost improvised; it’s supposed to resemble natural conversation but it sometimes feels aimless and very unnatural. That being said, a talented director could have easily made this screenplay into something suspenseful but like I said, Joe Wright hasn’t. There’s a predictable non-reveal about Anna’s family mid-way through the film, a cliched villain, and a conclusion that you’ve seen in a hundred other wannabe thrillers (most of which are probably available on Netflix) and that’s on top of one of the worst filmed fights with an idiotic disappearance and reappearance by the knife-wielding antagonist.
One of the better aspects of the film is the acting, specifically by Amy Adams who is always likeable and captivating. Most of the cast including Jennifer Jason Leigh, Julianne Moore, and Brian Tyree Henry are talented but they’re all wasted here. Fred Hechinger on the other hand, plays Ethan Russell (the neighbour’s teenage child) as some kind of autistic moron who wishes he was Martin Lang in The Killing Of A Sacred Deer but is closer to Amma Crellin in Sharp Objects. With such a caricatured and contrived performance, I wonder if Fred Hechinger was cast in this New York-set film because he’s related to The New York Times’ Fred M. Hechinger? Not nepotism again!
With such a disappointing narrative and aesthetic, I was more concerned that Ethan didn’t bring back the DVDs he borrowed from Anna than his mother’s whereabouts. The Woman In The Window is so bad that it will treat and remedy any case of agoraphobia quicker than Dr. Fox’s rehabilitation at the end of the film. Watching this mundane movie will make you wanna get of the house immediately, maybe even…
Out The Window.