The Woman in the Window is a 2021 thriller that follows a similar story to that of the Hitchcock masterpiece Rear Window, but unfortunately despite a great cast, this doesn’t come close to the 1954 James Stewart classic.
This Netflix original stars Amy Adams as Anna Fox, an agoraphobic child psychologist living in a large townhouse with only her basement tenant David (Wyatt Russell) for company. Separated from her husband (Anthony Mackie) and daughter, Anna spends her time looking out of the window and observing her neighbours, her only visitor is her own psychologist. Soon a new family, the Russells, move in across the street and Anna first encounters son Ethan (Fred Hechinger) as he brings over a gift. Anna soon suspects Ethan is an abused child and begins to keep a close watch on his father Alastair (Gary Oldman) from her window.
The next day, Anna meets Jane Russell (Julianne Moore) after she saves Anna from a panic attack brought on by opening her front door. The two bond, however later that week things take a sinister turn as Anna witnesses what she thinks is her neighbour Jane’s murder. After calling the police, Anna braves her agoraphobia and rushes across the road to save her neighbour, only to collapse and wake up in her house in front of Detectives Little (Brian Tyree Henry) and Norelli (Jeanine Serralles). The detectives inform Anna that Jane isn’t dead, and introduce her to an entirely different woman claiming to be Jane Russell (Jennifer Jason Leigh). This revelation, alongside sinister actions and escalating violence from Alastair lead Anna to question her entire reality and what’s really going on across the street.
The Woman in the Window’s biggest flaw is that it’s telling a story we’ve seen countless times before, and a story that we’ve seen done much better. A character confined to their home and witnessing a crime from their window has quite frankly been done to death, and sadly this version doesn’t add anything new. It’s your typical story of paranoia, where the end result is often the opposite of what the film would have you believe. And while the twists and ending here aren’t entirely predictable, they’re not particularly satisfying either. The motives involved are vague at best and you come away wondering what exactly was the point in it all.
Danny Elfman’s score doesn’t help either. It’s a fantastically dramatic and emotive score, but I found it was too much for a large number of the scenes. Music can improve the tension and suspense and while it does in some scenes, it feels out of place in others and the film could really benefit from some silence. The great cast feels wasted and the usually reliable Amy Adams and Gary Oldman especially appear to put in overacted, caricature-like performances. The whole film just feels like a wasted opportunity for all involved.
I really wanted to like The Woman in the Window, but sadly an unoriginal story, an overly heavy score and a squandered cast made this very difficult to get into and see past its flaws.
The Woman in the Window is streaming now on Netflix
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A contract manager moonlighting as a rather discerning film and book critic, with an almost fangirl appreciation for anything made by Christopher Nolan. When I’m not catching up on my latest read or watch, you can usually find me trying out my amateur baking skills – Bake Off here I come!