Ultimately forgettable and hopefully not detrimental to Amy Adams filmography
THE WOMAN IN THE WINDOW (2021)
I have an addiction to buying books. I love the feeling of a book in my hand, I love the way new and old books smell. If I see a bookstore, I will always go in to browse--and I never leave Costco without checking out their book table. That being said---on Valentines day in 2018, I purchased A.J. Finn’s debut novel, the source material for this film. Like many other books I have excitedly purchased, this sat on my nightstand for years before I picked it up for a procrastinated read before the premiere. An easy but overly long read and not as thrilling as I had hoped--I went into the film optimistic and attempting to avoid other’s harsh opinions.
Reader--if you’ve ever previously read any of my reviews, you know by now I love to find the good in every film. I can twist almost anything to a positive, or an “at least they were trying something different and creative” comment or explanation. That is what I will say about this direction by Joe Wright; it was different and creative. I did not hate it, I did not love it. At first watch, some decisions were off-putting and others felt right. I think Wright did a good job of paying homage to Hitchcock in his own way, without trying to be exactly like those iconic films. This is important!! I did a rewatch, and will admit the film is better a second time around. The verdict is still out on the scene on the roof, for me--I feel most audiences will either love it or it could ruin the film in its entirety.
Dr. Anna Fox lives alone in a huge New York city brownstone, confined to the indoors because of her fear of the outside world, unable to bring herself beyond the walls of her home: agoraphobia. Anna is separated from her husband and daughter, clearly unable to manage balancing life and emotions without them. Anna passes the time by spying on her new neighbors across the street. When Anna witnesses a horrific, violent act she struggles with her reality and the idea of hallucinations due to mixing alcohol and her prescription drug medications. What did Anna actually see happen? What did we really see?
ACTING | CHARACTERS | DIALOGUE:
I love Amy Adams. She is one of my all time favorite actresses working today and definitely a movie-fan’s favorite. She is committed to the frumpy, depressed alcoholic, agoraphobic Dr. Anna. As a child psychologist, she counsels people from home. However, she is more focused on obsessing over the identities of her neighbors. This is not at all a top performance from Adams, but she is not awful. She portrays the character well and carries every scene. Gary Oldman plays his stereotypical role: an angry, loud white man--her neighbor across the street who Anna Fox accused of abusing his creepy, weird son, Ethan (Fred Hechinger). Anna’s basement tenant, David (Wyatt Russell), is equally as creepy as Ethan but it is almost unable to be placed why he causes the viewer to feel this way. Luckily, all the characters fall into place and all the loose ends are tied up by the end, whether forcely and easily resolved or not, at least we leave the narrative with all the answers.
VISUAL EFFECTS | MAKEUP | DESIGN:
This is without question, the best element of the film. The colors on display throughout every scene are remarkable, beautiful blues and reds, akin to the book cover and representative of calming quiet tones and contrast harsh, full of fear reds. The color palette and lighting are thoughtful, but some editing choices just seem silly. For example: there is a moment where Anna snaps a photo of her fluffy white cat, Punch, and the screen goes full and still, mirroring the photo, and then swipes off screen--this moment is just as cringeworthy as it is cheesy and random. It adds no value.
MUSIC | SCORE | SOUND DESIGN:
The suspenseful moments are accompanied by typical sounds and scores--and importantly the moments of silent fill a purpose, too. A moment full of fast-paced and urgent music sometimes led to nothing, not in a misleading way, but in the same way The Shining (Stanley Kubrick, 1980) would show young Danny riding his tricycle down a hallway, building tension and suspense with music that leads to nothing happening. Of course, this is not as well done as, say, Kubrick and his crew did it--but it is evident where the tone was going.
I had decently high hopes coming into this one, for a multitude of reasons. I love thrillers and I love Alfred Hitchcock, so any reference to his work is something I know I will enjoy. I did enjoy those moments--the direct nods to his camerawork or editing style, and the clips from his films integrated into certain scenes. This film hopes to live up to the level of Hitchcock, but unfortunately it does not even come close to the level of masterful suspense, and unfortunately leans more silly and overly melodramatic. Ultimately forgettable and hopefully not detrimental to Amy Adams filmography.
THE WOMAN IN THE WINDOW is Now Streaming on NETFLIX