Movie Review: “The Woman in the Window”

The Woman in the Window was a film I did not know a lot about. Sometimes though, that is the best way to enjoy a film, right? Go in blind and make that leap of faith, and the reward will be sweeter if it pays off. The little I did know about the film was enough to catch my attention. The film stars Amy Adams, who I enjoy, and other familiar names. Gary Oldman is involved, as is Julianne MooreJennifer Jason Leigh, and Bryan Tyree Henry. The film was directed by Joe Wright, who likely wishes I knew him from the critically acclaimed film Darkest Hour. Instead, I know him from that awkward Peter Pan film where Hugh Jackman covered Nirvana. The screenplay was written by Tracy Letts and is based on the novel of the same name by A. J. Finn.

The film was originally scheduled to be released theatrically in October 2019, but was shelved after poor test screenings. The theatrical release was canceled in May of last year on-account of the COVID-19 pandemic. All of this brings us to the present, with The Woman in the Window released on Netflix a year later. The film appears to have been a success for Netflix, but I have no way of knowing for certain. I mean, it was number one film at 3am when I watched it, if that amounts to anything at all. The metrics of a film’s success have blurred since Covid-19, and I don’t see it straightening out anytime soon.

What’s The Woman in the Window about? Basically, Amy Adams’ character Anna Fox is a psychologist whose hit hard times. She is separated from her husband and has begun suffering from agoraphobia. As a consequence, she has begun paying close attention to her neighbors. She knows things about them, their names, their routines, etc. All’s well until it isn’t. She befriends a young boy and his mother, and is shocked to see a crime committed against them.

As the film progressed, I felt like I had a firmer grasp on what it had in mind. The concept is an oldie, but goodie, and one I am usually interested in. Similar to Alfred Hitchcock‘s Rear Window, or the more-modern Disturbia, the idea of being witness to your neighbor’s nefarious deed is fun cinema. The Woman in the Window, on the other hand, is, perhaps, weightier than them, at least in intent. The film wants to tackle grief and mental illness, and yet, still have its cake and eat it too.

This isn’t all bad, and genuinely, it has its moments to it. Everyone else is par for the course and serviceable, but this is Amy Adams’ film, through and through. She plays a withered woman, downtrodden and defeated, whose state-of-mind is under attack. For all intents and purposes, Amy Adams does her part and is game in her performance.

One thing I did know about The Woman in the Window ahead of time was the negative critical reaction. I knew about it, but I did not necessarily buy into it. Any film dealing with mental illness in any way, shape, or form, has its work cut out for it. Individuals sometimes respond to films from an emotional standpoint, instead of in a more objective way. I don’t have a problem with that. We are not robots, after all. However, when we’re thinking with our heart, that’s when we’re at our most drastic. Instead, as it turns out, I was wrong about that.

This film is not horrid, by any means. This is not a “stab your eyes out” awful film. I complimented Amy Adams, but, now, I will also mention the cinematography by Bruno Delbonnel and score by Danny Elfman. I know I had at least an instance in this film where I thought to myself, “Why does everyone hate this film so much?” The Woman in the Window has a lot of talented, skillful individuals, both in front of the camera and behind it.

The answer comes in how much it asks of you. The storyline starts out as contrived. Then, soon after, it becomes very contrived. But, by the very end, it becomes outright absurd. Whether it be the smaller minute details, like a therapist’s breach of confidentiality, or Anna calling the police officers for a crime and them bringing the accused over to her house in the middle of the night. Or the larger, much larger suspension of disbelief the film asks of you with each twist and turn in throws in.

Part of you might be interested in seeing the film for yourself. I wouldn’t recommend it, personally. At the same time, however, unlike other critics and onlookers, I don’t have enough disdain for The Woman in the Window to actively try and dissuade you with anything other than shrugged shoulders.

 

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