The Woman in the Window Review: Cracked Rear Window
It’s no surprise that someone would try to turn The Woman in the Window into a movie. The thriller by AJ Finn was a big hit, so of course it would follow in the footsteps of other adapted thrillers. You know, the “girl” movies, like Gone Girl–the queen of them all, y’all–and The Girl on the Train, but this time it’s a Woman. Sure. Anyway, after a postponement and other difficulties, that gal is finally here, and so is my review of The Woman in the Window.
Who’s That Girl? I Mean, Who’s That Woman?
image via Netflix
Amy Adams stars as Anna Fox, an agoraphobic child therapist living in gentrified Harlem. Separated from her husband Ed (Anthony Mackie) and daughter Olivia (Mariah Bozeman), Anna’s whole world is her apartment and the street below. She’s in therapy with Dr. Landy (Tracy Letts) and she has David (Wyatt Russell), her tenant, but otherwise, all she knows is what she can see from her window.
One day, what she sees is a new family, the Russells, moving in across the street. She meets the teenage son, Ethan (Fred Hechinger), first. He brings over a candle, a gift from his mom. Then she meets his mom (Julianne Moore). We can tell she has a wild streak, but at the same time, she obviously seems to care for her son. It seems like the new neighbors are going to be a great addition to the street.
However, one night, Anna sees something disturbing across the way. Specifically, she sees a murder. Or does she? When she calls the police, it’s all a little fuzzy. She’d called earlier, reporting an intruder in her own home. It’d turned out to be David, but it looks funny to the police–is she one of those people who likes the attention she gets from calling 911?
But that’s not the only thing that’s bugging the cops. When they check on the Russells, they’re all there and accounted for–Ethan and his parents, Alistair (Gary Oldman) and Jane (Jennifer Jason Leigh). Obviously, this is not the same woman Anna met, so what in tarnation is going on here? Well, if you ask the cops (and the adult Russells), it seems pretty self-explanatory. Anna is already mentally ill, plus she’s drinking with her medication. It stands to reason then that she’s deluded about what she saw. Or is she?
The Woman in the Window Review
According to Goodreads, I rated AJ Finn’s novel 3 stars, or “I liked it.” It’s kind of hard not to. Finn, aka Daniel Mallory, basically wrote it to be a bestselling thriller. In doing so, he borrowed a bit of The Girl on the Train, a bit of the film Copycat, a bit of Hitchcock, and a bit of a bunch of film noir flicks. Don’t worry if you don’t get all the references–this movie helpfully cuts to them, just to make sure you know the effin’ vibe.
image via Netflix
Basically, this is any movie you’ve seen or book you’ve read before with an unreliable narrator. And overall, it’s a watchable film. It’s certainly not the worst way to spend your time if you’re just wanting to watch a mindless thriller. And if that sounds like I’m damning it with faint praise, then that’s the way it’s intended to sound.
Because while this can be an entertaining film, especially if you haven’t read the book, it’s not actually a very good one. There are hints of a more ambitious, more daring film in here. However, the film as it stands, in its relentlessly focus-grouped and 0ver-edited final form, is pretty predictable, its movements expected. At the same time, the pacing is all off, along with the characterization, in a way that doesn’t seem planned. Why is Anna, for instance, so forceful in some situations, but literally whimpering in others? Girl, tell these folks to get out of your house. (And for that matter, why do the detectives bring the whole Russell clan INTO Anna’s house?)
The Bottom Line
Overall, what we have here is a criminal underutilization of a bunch of good actors. Anthony Mackie and Wyatt Russell (last seen together in The Falcon and the Winter Soldier finale) fare the worst in my opinion, but it’s up for debate. Really, none of the characters are as developed as they should be. That includes the villain at the center of it all, whom I regret to inform y’all is a talker.
There are better ways to spend your time than watching this, a movie that self-consciously wears its influences on its sleeve. But if you’re stuck inside with nothing else to do? Sure, throw it on.
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featured image via Netflix
Salomé Gonstad is a freelance writer who grew up in the swampy wilds of south Alabama. When she's not yelling about pop culture on the internet, she's working on a supernatural thriller about her hometown. Also, we're pretty sure she's a werewolf. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.