‘THE WOMAN IN THE WINDOW’ REVIEW
★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
Directed by Joe Wright | Released 14 May 2021 | Runtime: 1h 40min
An underwhelming entry into the psychological thriller genre
Another Netflix original boasting an A-list cast, the Woman in the Window aired on the streaming service last Friday after circulating its rather promising trailer over the last few months. Based on the popular 2018 debut novel by A.J. Finn and directed by Joe Wright (Atonement, The Darkest Hour), there’s been a lot of anticipation for the thriller to grace our screens.
Disappointingly, viewers will be pulled into it’s intoxicating premise, only to be left underwhelmed and dumbfounded over its missguided delivery.
Child psychologist, Anna Fox, has suffered with agoraphobia for the last ten months. Living alone and too frightened to go outside, she spends her days drinking wine and spying on her neighbours. When the Russells move into the house across the way, she witnesses a disturbing act of violence sending her into a frenzy. The question is – is everything as it seems? What is real and who is in danger?
Amy Adams (Arrival, Nocturnal Animals, American Hustle), as always, offers a striking performance and effortlessly adds many endearing and haunting layers to her character, Anna. She breathes enough sensitivity and believability into Anna’s mental health challenges that you could have easily indulged in the 1h 40min runtime of that story on it’s own, without any of the extra twists and turns.
Gary Oldman (The Darkest Hour, The Dark Knight, Mank) is as expressive and animated as ever, as the unpleasant patriarch, Alistair Russell, but it was disappointing to see that his role was more short lived than anticipated.
Julianne Moore (Hannibal, Still Alice) certainly made an entrance as the sharp-tongued and untrustworthy free spirited character, but again, her talents felt underused and underrated. As for Fred Hechinger (News of the World), he was captivating during the first few introductions with Anna, as the awkward and vulnerable teenage son, but became less enticing and credible as the story played out.
Apart from Adams stealing the entire show, there’s credit owed to the movie’s stylistic choices. The cinematography and set are both entangled with hints to Anna’s mental state, and gracefully carries the story along. The dark interior and lighting throughout Anna’s home mirrors the depression she is suffering from, and adds to the claustrophobic feeling of being “locked” inside for an incredible amount of time. Often, red and orange tones break through the screen, setting the sinister mood and placing you directly into Anna’s world of darkness. Where there is light, it’s to place an emphasis on the neighbours actions as Anna voyeurs into their individual worlds.
As for the camera work, this stands out during Anna’s peak moments of terror. The slow pan and zooming in to focus on her frightened expressions only further echoes the claustrophobic situation she is in, both physically and mentally. The camera’s are the walls closing in on her and reflect her fragmented mind cracking under pressure. When it comes to the voyeuristic shots of the apartments, there’s no denying that they are a homage to Rear Window (1954), and even the apartments on view feel like a modern replica of the ones first seen in Hitchock’s story.
Where The Woman in the Window disappoints is likely with its source material and parts of the script. It’s formulaic, but there’s usually nothing wrong with that, as many of us enjoy the likes of Rear Window, Disturbia (2007) and The Girl on the Train (2016). With films of this genre, it’s easy to know what to expect, and that’s why the delivery is so important. The Woman in the Window does start off as a thrilling watch, gripping you into asking yourself if Anna is imagining what she is seeing or not. Towards the end though, the story and delivery feels a bit all over the place, often trying to delve into too much, but not allowing itself to indulge in its best moments.
Some of the worst scenes were the sudden appearances of people in Anna’s house; the dialogue was almost comedic and the set-up felt like an over-the-top stage production, which really displaced you as a viewer. As for the finale, you saw it coming from the start, but it has to be one of the poorest and most anticlimactic of all.
Ultimately, an A-list cast and cracking performance from Amy Adams is just enough to keep you going until the end, but don’t expect to take The Woman in the Window too seriously. It’s not going to be one to remember or one to add to the must re-watch list!
You can find The Woman in the Window streaming on Netflix now.