The Woman in the Window
The Woman in the Window (2021) movie review
The Woman in the Window stars Amy Adams as an agoraphobic who, after a new family moves in across the street, believes she witnesses a murder. The thriller was directed by Joe Wright and based on the novel by A.J. Finn. The film was purchased by Netflix after a production nightmare which included rewrites and reshoots, a Disney acquisition of Fox, and a final product that I don’t believe Wright even had a say in. So nobody’s surprise, The Woman in the Window was released to middling reveiws from critics and audiences alike.
No joke, The Woman in the Window reminded me of Fant4stic (2015) in the sense that the movie started and it was not half bad! We got going to an interesting story with solid performances and a strong visual style. Then something happens with the tone and we are quickly tossed into another genre. Then another one, then another one; each worsening the quality of filmmaking more than the last. What I’m saying is, if rewrites and reshoots are the equivalent of reconstructive surgery, then Woman in the Window is Frankenstein’s monster.
So what went wrong here? Well let’s talk about the story first, as most of the flaws seem to stem from that. The story follows a woman afraid to go outside who believes she witnesses a murder and, because we’ve seen a movie or two in our lives, we know by the end she has to confront her fear of leaving her house (or whatever you call fancy houses in New York) in order to both solve the dilemma in the plot and grow as a character. If you look at it in a literal sense, the movie does accomplish the simply goal of overcoming a character arc. But you don’t get points for physically putting your monster together to look human. You have to bring it to life first…
Now let’s address the elephant in the room: Rear Window (1954) is a film that exists, and it clearly acts as an inspiration for this film. But obviously you want to do something different right? Well this film had a good thing going for a while with the idea of an unreliable narrator. You know what, I’m getting into some mild spoilers here. Not that this film is remotely worth watching. But hey, if you really want to watch it knowing nothing at all, this is your SPOILER ALERT.
So, anyone who is paying attention will learn that Anna (Amy Adams) is an unreliable narrator. She’s not even narrating to be precise, but there is an element woven into the film that does show that her judgement is not trustworthy. This is showcased quite powerfully early on through the introductions of the supporting characters, the tense score from last minute replacement composer Danny Elfman (who keeps this film much more interesting than it should be), and the Hitchcock and Polanski inspired cinematography and framing. All that gets thrown away by the end of the first act…
Enter sudden dramatic cuts that would make Argento proud, while the film gives you whiplash transitioning to its Italian experimental drug trip of a murder story. Could this work? Maybe. Problem is, the brain they gave this monster was Abby Normal’s indeed… The story begins to make very little sense as the audience starts to side against Anna. But we also don’t side with anyone else, as Gary Oldman, Julianne Moore, Wyatt Russell, and Jennifer Jason Leigh aren’t the most trustworthy actors in supporting roles. (I do want to give a shoutout to Gary Oldman for delivering a classic 50s Hollywood performance that is totally wasted in this movie.)
And before that style can go anywhere, Amy Adams is overacting in obvious reshoots, then we get back to the mystery before quickly stumbling into a very confusing slasher film that feels like the finale to a completely different movie. Payoff? HAHAHA they don’t know the meaning of the word! Honestly, I don’t even get what was happening at the end. I just kept thinking about the downhill spiral that was Woman in the Window and wondering how we got here. But then I remembered that the once interesting Fant4stic went from genuinely fun sci-fi flick ended in them punching a manakin with mind powers into a blue sky beam…
So if you fancy a good movie gone weird gone bad gone terrible, have I got the monster for you! Woman in the Window is sadly just a product of a messy post-production process that ended with selling it to Netflix as a way to silence the film once and for all. And good, because the final product of this experiment didn’t deserve to be brought back to life in the first place. If you have had the pleasure of not watching this movie yet, you’re lucky. I don’t know about everyone else, but it’s the worst thing I’ve seen this year. 2/10.
So, Woman in the Window? What did you think? And what film carries the most apparent scars of its production? Be sure to leave a like or a comment below and let us know! And if you liked this review and you want to read more like it, let us know below what we should talk about next!
-review by Ryan Prince