The Stream: This thriller has some predictable twists.
The Big Screen: Amy Adams leads a good cast through the ridiculous plot.
The Final Bill: Intriguing and entertaining despite both ridiculous and predictable twists.– Trip Fontaine
Director: Joe Wright
Writers: Tracy Letts (screenplay by), A.J. Finn (based upon the novel by)
Stars: Amy Adams, Gary Oldman, Anthony Mackie
Genre: Drama, Mystery, Thriller
Rating: R for violence and language
Runtime: 1 hour 40 minutes
Production Companies: 20th Century Studios, Fox 2000 Pictures, Scott Rudin Productions, See more
Platform: Netflix May 14, 2021
The Woman in the Window was supposed to premiere in theaters last year. Like many other movies, it was shuffled around due to COVID and eventually was sold to Netflix. It premiered on the streaming service a couple weeks ago to little promotion and fanfare. I read the book that the film was based on a few years ago, but I remember that novel being a real page-turner, as paperback thrillers go. Let’s see how this adaptation turned out.
Here, Amy Adams plays Dr. Anna Fox, a child psychologist who suffers from debilitating agoraphobia. While Dr. Fox has been secluded in her large brownstone in New York City, she has become engrossed in monitoring her neighbors including the Russell family, the new neighbors who have moved into the property across the street. Filled with mind-altering medications and consumed by alcohol, coping with the separation from her husband (Anthony Mackie) and her young daughter, Dr. Fox begins to question her own sanity when she sees something through the window that she can’t explain. The Woman in the Window devolves into a fairly obvious whodunnit and uses Dr. Fox’s psychological fragility as a scapegoat.
The Woman in the Window is a paint-by-numbers attempt to imitate Alfred Hitchcock’s Rear Window. This movie fits pretty easily into a genre of films where unreliable women attempt to solve a crime they’re not sure really exists. In fact, there is a bit of a Lifetime quality to it. However, Joe Wright can be a stylish director; and for the benefit of the audience, The Woman in the Window becomes an exercise in style over substance. Every scene looks great from the design of Dr. Fox’s brownstone to the color and photography throughout. There is one completely engrossing sequence mid-film that seems to be the reason the entire film exists. Despite all that, the film does devolve into rote thriller territory because the mystery has to be solved, right? – unfortunately, the filmmakers were unable to find an interesting way to solve it.
Although the plot can be kind of silly, as the centerpiece of the action, Amy Adams gives a passionate and heartfelt performance. Adams taps into the confusion, terror and heartbreak of Dr. Fox. She’s a sympathetic character when she’s not being stupid. In fact, Adam’s performance deserves a better movie. The rest of the cast does serviceable work though. Julianne Moore bring infectious energy to a small role. Gary Oldman comes through in a couple scenes to yell and be sinister. Bryan Tyree Henry brings grounded empathy to an otherwise non-descript detective role. No one really is bad, except the kid who plays Ethan Russell. I didn’t get what he was doing and that could have derailed the whole thing.
The Woman in the Window is a thriller that tries its best to rise above the mediocre material. The director made good choices to add some flourish to the film and the lead performance by Amy Adams is better than the movie deserves. Ultimately, it is an entertaining watch, even though it is not an otherwise special movie. This film is a rainy Sunday afternoon watch with a handful of popcorn.