The Woman in the Window
The Woman in the Window travelled a cumbersome road to release before finding its way to Netflix. On the way, it was struck by urgent reshoots after poor test screenings, interference from new corporate overlords (it was in transit during the Disney-Fox merger) and suffered from pandemic-related delays. None of those things can excuse the final cut, which is a profound bore that unsatisfactorily pays tribute to cinema’s suspense masters. This thriller is not worth seeing.
Based on the best-selling novel of the same name and borrowing the plot of Alfred Hitchcock’s all-timer Rear Window, this new feature from Joe Wright (Atonement, Darkest Hour) centres on an agoraphobic woman (Amy Adams), whose curiosity about her new neighbours (Gary Oldman, Julianne Moore and Fred Hechinger) provokes her to whip out her telephoto lens to spy on them.
What she witnesses is a violent attack. Her police report initiates the first big twist, and subsequently her understanding of the event is rapidly contorted. Though it’s explicitly a film about the act of seeing, there’s little to engage viewers to look closer. The director emphasises his theme by simply directing too much – visual memories, red herrings, motifs such as the close-up of Adams’ piercing blue eyes; Wright is a skilled craftsman, but he seems to be overreaching here in his impression of Hitchcock or Brian de Palma, losing sight of what makes his own work special.
Part of what makes the filmmaker’s period pieces so appealing is his ability to encourage the best contributions from his actors. The impression one gets from the rich ensemble here (which also counts Jennifer Jason Leigh, Brian Tyree Henry and Wyatt Russell) is that they are merely turning up to an apartment for a pay cheque and presumably a nice dinner with fellow acclaimed thespians. Adams can’t be so brilliantly reactive as she usually is – her previous collaborations with David O Russell are testament, with the actor once calling her eyes a window to her soul, but it hurts to wonder how interesting he could have found this material.
This overly produced mess spins audiences’ heads with twists and misdirection, only to arrive at a limp climax. At that point, it is far removed from the power of the classic movie to which it owes its central conceit. The trouble with trying to be Hitchcock is that you aren’t Hitchcock. But this isn’t even as good as other imitations such as Disturbia.
The Woman in the Window is released on Netflix on 14th May 2021.
Watch the trailer for The Woman in the Window here: