Alfred Hitchcock is one of the greatest directors who ever born. In the middle of the 20th century, he made many memorable films such as Psycho, Rear Window, Birds, or Vertigo. You could say that he laid the foundations for the thriller genre, and over time his work became a reference point for today’s thrillers.
The Woman in the Window has directed by Joe Wright and tells the story of A.J. Finn’s novel. It was adapted to the screen by Tracy Letts. The original plan was to release the movie in 2019, but after the test screenings, they decided to re-cut it, so they delayed the premiere to 2020. Unfortunately, the virus also postponed the premiere by a year. They wanted to screen the film in cinemas. However, in the end, it ended up on Netflix.
The story’s main protagonist is Anna Fox (Amy Adams), who is suffering from agoraphobia. That means she gets panicked from open spaces and practically doesn’t leave her own house ever. Because of her illness, Anna spends her days in the company of medicine and alcohol. One day, the Russell family moves into the flat on the other side of the street. She accidentally meets each of her new neighbors one-by-one. One night, however, she hears screams and witnesses a murder. And from that point, her life turns into a total nightmare. Is she just hallucinating about the things around her, or is there really a murder behind it all?
The film’s basic idea could have laid down the pillars of a very intensive and twisted thriller. Sadly it just partially worked out. Because of Anna’s phobia, the whole film almost takes place within the walls of the house. That is a fascinating concept, which gives the film a unique atmosphere, but sadly the movie couldn’t keep up the tension.
Long-time fans of the genre could blame the script for its simplicity. These genre-loving veterans will easily predict several plot points and twists, but since a book provided the basis, I wouldn’t blame it. The actual mistakes were the lack of tension building and the elaboration of the characters.
There were slapping ideas and moments where the tension worked for me, but overall it didn’t bring that thrilling sensation that real thriller classics can provide. The plot tries to mislead its viewers, but it can’t trick the experts of the genre.
However, the biggest mistake is the unfinished characteristics mentioned above. Amy Adams is the only actor with a real character, and she brings her usual high standards, but everyone else is just a shallow figure in the movie. But if you look at the cast who took on these roles, that’s probably not what you’d think. Gary Oldman is merely a supporting actor, and Julian Moore has only about five minutes of screen time in the whole movie.
Besides our protagonist, Wyatt Russell and Fred Hechinger – portrayed the Russell family’s child – received the longest time on the screen. And Jennifer Jason Leigh has practically been given the role of an extra whose script could fit on a matchbox. Even Anthony Mackie jumped in for a cameo role. Because of this, we can’t worry about any of these characters other than the protagonist. And that leaves us with unstructured character motivations. That is why the final twist doesn’t work and leaves a bitter taste in our mouths.
However, the only thing that worked was the visuals. The film has nailed the genre’s tone well, and for that, the credit goes to the cinematographer’s professional work that gave us a lot of brilliantly photographed scenes.
“The Woman in the Window” didn’t become a hit, especially if we put it next to memorable pieces from the thriller genre. However, it’s still enjoyable even for the fans of the genre. We won’t chew our nails off, but the tension from the basic concept works quite well. That is why the film is worth a watch because compared to many thrillers made in cliché factories, it has become a movie that can be enjoyed and has pretty unique ideas.
We had the Girl on the Train before. Now we got The Woman in the Window. What comes next? The Lady on the Beach?