Director: Charlie McDowell
Writers: Justin Lader and Andrew Kevin Walker
Starring: Jason Segel, Lily Collins, Jesse Plemons
Windfall is a dark thriller from director and co-writer Charlie McDowell that’s just been released on Netflix. Starring three great actors, who give it there all in this Hitchcock-lite story. Jason Segel stars as an unnamed thief who is robbing a billionaire’s house, only to be caught by the billionaire and his wife, played by Jesse Plemons and Lily Collins.
None of the characters are actually named in the film, to add to the minimalist style of the film. It’s minimalist with a soft, almost noir at points, score, as well as the isolated setting and core cast of only three. Jesse Plemons is a self-made billionaire who created code that made jobs redundant and helped companies maximise profits, while Jason Segel is a nobody who breaks in for a taste of the high-life. Lily Collins is something different, stuck in the shadow of her husband, who she feels trapped with, while trying to do good with her charities.
Everything is about the tension between the characters. The rich couple’s relationship is strained, fraying at the edges. The fear that this thief might actually kill them, who at the same time doesn’t really know what he’s doing. One of the better moments is when Segel’s character is demanding money, while the couple try to explain what would be needed and that half a million is a lot heavier and harder to carry than he would think.
Sadly, the tension doesn’t stay around long in the film. The first twenty or so minutes are great as the story is being set up, you feel like there’s an even greater mystery at play. But there’s no big reveals to be found, or shocking moments. Instead the next hour drags on, feeling a lot longer than the ninety minute run time, making you guess at something that isn’t there. It does feel quite dull as it moves on, and the mystery your solving in your mind will probably be better than what’s playing out on screen.
It’s a film about the characters, not about the plot, but the characters just aren’t that interesting to make this great. The performances are fine, but beyond that there’s little here worth watching for. From such a great cast you expect so much more. It’s a shame, and a rare misstep for Plemons, who had been on such a winning streak with recent films.
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