Thursday, July 18, 2024

Movie Review: Joe Wright’s ‘The Woman in the Window’ is a Forgettable Homage to Psychological Thrillers


Director: Joe Wright
Writers: Tracy Letts
Stars: Amy Adams, Gary Oldman, Anthony Mackie, Wyatt Russell, Brian Tyree Henry, Julianne Moore

Synopsis: Agoraphobic Dr. Anna Fox witnesses something she shouldn’t while keeping tabs on the Russell family, the seemingly picture perfect clan that lives across the way.

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Director Joe Wright, most known for his elegant period pieces, hangs up his lavish gowns and takes on his newest project The Woman in the Window. With one delay after another, and not all because of the worldwide virus, The Woman in the Window may not be everything you’re expecting. 

Based on the best-selling novel by A.J. Finn, this adaptation has a lot to live up to. A story such as this may take its inspiration from an array of psychological thrillers, but it’s pretty clear the impact Alfred Hitchcock’s Rear Window has on this film. Our Hitchcockian heroine, Anna Fox, is not played by a blonde bombshell, but rather the talented Amy Adams, an actress whose stunning career includes a wide range of characters. Staying in the house with nowhere to go should be a rather relatable subject, but unlike Jimmy Stewart with his broken leg, Anna struggles with agoraphobia. 

She stays in her home watching the outside world pass before her, surviving on an unhealthy diet of prescription pills from her psychiatrist (Tracy Letts) and bottles of red wine. Anna’s mind becomes fuzzy as each day bleeds into the next. Through the drunken stupor and hallucinations, she watches the neighbors go about their business, playing music or participating in prayer groups. On an ordinary Monday morning, she notices new neighbors moving in across the street. 

The Russells are a wealthy family that has moved from Boston to Manhattan. Within a day, Anna is visited by the son Ethan (Fred Hechinger) and then by the matriarch of the family, Mrs. Jane Russell (Julianne Moore). Anna takes a liking to them, although she believes that their family life may be a bit troubled. Soon after their meeting, Anna sees Jane murdered from across the street — her disorder preventing her from helping Jane any further than calling the authorities. This is but the first domino to fall as the rabbit hole of mystery only becomes more convoluted. 

Whether it be the celebrated novel or the intriguing trailer, we have all been taken in by the film’s compelling whodunit. However, its execution is severely underwhelming. In an “everything but the kitchen sink” type of storytelling, its constant barrage of twists and turns makes it hard for the viewer to feel engaged in what’s happening at a particular moment. Wright is no stranger in adapting famous novels for the big screen. However, this generic retelling of a story that’s plainly been done before, full of homage after homage to classic film, feels like it’s trying too hard. 

In what can best be described as a “silver platter” of movies, The Woman in the Window has all the pieces to make this film a gripping thriller. An accomplished director, brilliant cast, great score, and eerie cinematography, this film should be a no-brainer award caliber film. Although the film isn’t terrible, it’s forgettable at best. With an original release date of 2019, The Woman in the Window feels like the piece of food in your fridge that urgently needs to be consumed as it reaches the end of its shelf-life. 

Rating: C-

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