The Woman in the Window

Rating :   ⭐️ ⭐️ 

Categorisation: Thriller

Availability: Netflix

Plot: British director Joe Wright created Woman in the Window, an American thriller based on A.J. Finn’s best-selling novel of the same name. Wright is an experienced filmmaker, with several successful films under his belt (Atonement, Pride & Prejudice, Anna Karenina). The film tells the story of Anna Fox, a child psychologist who has been unable to leave her house for almost a year. She is receiving counselling for agoraphobia, an intense anxiety condition that makes her terrified of going outside. From the sanctity of her brownstone house in New York she watches her neighbours, an obsession that becomes overwhelming and dangerous as she witnesses the murder of a woman across the street. She calls the police, but things may not be as they seem. The wine that she drinks to excess, combined with her medication, renders her incapable of clear thinking. Hallucinations are a side effect of her medication. The police have doubts. And then, so does Anna. Through a series of creepy encounters, flashbacks, and distorted scenes that parallel her deteriorating mental health, the film works through what is real and what is not. 

Cast: Amy Adams gives a strong and nuanced performance as Anna. The scenes where she becomes suspicious of her tenant, who lives in the basement, are taut and cleverly portrayed. Wyatt Russell is also good as the tenant, David, an itinerant singer, who is variously supportive of Anna, then exasperated by her intrusive behaviour. Julianne Moore, playing Anna’s neighbour Jane, overplays her role – even for someone who likes to live life on the edge. 

Filming and Setting: The film is unmistakably influenced by Hitchcock classics of the 1950s and 60s. In fact, it has Rear Window playing endlessly on a television in Anna’s house. It is a constant reminder to us how much it seeks to emulate Hitchcock, just in case we happened to miss it – but there is little chance of that, given the heavy overtones. Unsurprisingly, most of the action occurs in Anna’s house, which is large and dark, with plenty of stairs and sinister corners. Cinematically, it gives an intriguing feel of a stage-play, moving from one scene to the next, cleverly pausing to allow us the full impact of the staged set. 

Personal Comments: Having read the book, I was looking forward to the film. I recall the novel being full of twists and turns, and other similar books had been successfully brought to the screen, for example, Gone Girl. But I was disappointed. While Woman in the Window has a strong cast, and an experienced director, it somehow manages to miss the mark. Some of scenes are excellent. It starts off well, but in the end, it fails to keep you wondering, or even caring about what happens. The only thing I wondered about was whether I would see the film through to the end.  

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