Director: Joe Wright
Writer: Tracy Letts
Starring: Amy Adams, Gary Oldman, Anthony Mackie, Fred Hechinger, Wyatt Russell, Brian Tyree Henry, Jennifer Jason Leigh, and Julianne Moore
Early last year The Woman in the Window was met with a negative to mixed reception when it was released on Netflix, and that’s being generous. After a delayed, and ultimately cancelled, cinema release, the film was sold to the streaming giant, and then quickly forgotten about. Watching it, almost a year since it was released, and it doesn’t live up to the overly negative reviews the film received at the time. It’s nothing incredible, but there are still points where it’s incredibly gripping and mysterious.
Anna Fox (Amy Adams) lives alone in Manhattan, housebound and struggling with agoraphobia. She spends her days watching her neighbours and keeping an eye on their comings and goings, in particular the new neighbours moving in across the street. Something seems off about them, and when Anna believes she sees Jane from across the street being murdered, and no one takes her seriously, she takes it upon herself to investigate the crime.
The strongest part of this film is Amy Adam’s performance, which is an incredibly powerful portrayal of agoraphobia. She carries the entire film, elevating it from the equivalent to an airport novel, into something more. Anna is someone you’re instantly invested in, and you feel her pain and confusion through every moment of the story. Similarly, to Sigourney Weaver’s character in Copycat, who also suffered from agoraphobia, Amy Adam’s makes it feel real. The film takes the subject seriously, and it really works. Anna doesn’t feel comfortable leaving her own home, and even the thought of it causes massive panic attacks. The rest of the cast are also really great. Gary Oldman is able to turn sinister at the flick of a switch. Julianne Moore leaves an impression through the small time she’s on screen.
The mystery of whether Anna really witnessed her neighbour being killed, or imagined it, is incredibly gripping. It’s a tense thriller. It’ll have you double guessing yourself as the story weaves in twists and turns leading up to the big finale. You want to know what’s really going on and it’s completely captivating while it’s playing out.
Sadly, it’s not perfect. The film does go on too long, and it should have ended up being a film just about grief and how the mind isn’t trustworthy, but it’s not ambitious enough to stick that landing. Instead, it does become a more standard thriller, with a twist upon a twist ending. It feels like it’s going in a unique direction and being a great character study of a depression and grief, but it feels like screenwriter Tracey Letts gets nervous and diverts it back to something more familiar in the final twenty minutes.
There are also way too many moments that stretch reality far too much. Without spoiling it, there are a few things that take you out of the film, as you ask yourself ‘did that really just happen?’. It does break down some of the tension that the rest of the film spends so much time building up.
Overall it’s a really decent thriller, that is engaging and tense, with a fair few visual stylistic flourishes. When director Joe Wright is playing with the visuals of the world, it really works. Things appearing closer than they are, blood splatters, a flashback to a car crash that ends up in the house, it breaks the walls of reality in a really interesting way. The Woman in the Window is nothing spectacular, and with a more daring script it really could have been, but it’s also not complete rubbish. It’s a better than average thriller with some great performances and good twists.
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