Cert – 15, Run-time – 1 hour 41 minutes, Director – Joe Wright
A child psychologist (Amy Adams) witnesses the murder of her new neighbour (Julianne Moore), however finds herself being disbelieved and seemingly having her claims proved wrong.
We know that Amy Adams’ child psychologist Dr. Anna Fox is meant to be perceived as perhaps mentally unstable from her untidy hair; loose-fitting, somewhat dishevelled, clothing and flustered, panicked look. Seemingly stricken by past trauma she spends her days mostly reclusive, aside from seeing her therapist (Tracy Letts) and lodger, David (Wyatt Russell). However, soon after new neighbours move in across the road from her she breaks her rule of almost never opening the door to anyone and meets teenage Ethan (Fred Hechinger). As the two get to know each other they gradually get to bonding over Anna’s collection of classic films – some of which she seems to know word for word. During such discussions Anna seems more relaxed and less worried about the world outside of her house. The same somewhat goes for her evening spent consuming vast amounts of wine (more so than she might normally do during the day) with Ethan’s mysterious mother, Kate (Julianne Moore).
It appears the only member of the Russell family who gives Anna a cold reception is blunt and angered father and husband Alistair (Gary Oldman). It’s partly this that leads Anna to believe he’s responsible for Kate’s death – which she witnesses when observing those living on the opposite side of the street from her window. However, after calling the police (Jeanine Serralles, and the always welcome presence of Bryan Tyree Henry) it’s revealed that Kate is very much alive, and looks completely different (Jennifer Jason Leigh). Anna is simply branded as delusional, violently warned by Alistair – in a series of statements that suggest that this isn’t Oldman’s best performance, having previously won an Oscar for his leading role in director Joe Wright’s Darkest Hour – “you’re f**king with the wrong family”. However, continue to f**k she does as she delves into the mystery and attempts to prove that what she saw was true.
There are plenty of elements that have been, understandably so, compared many times to Rear Window, and Hitchcock in general. Such elements are present within the piece, and it does create a somewhat by-the-numbers feel, although one that’s still watchable. Where the film does begin to slip and lose itself is in the various monologues and lengthier scenes that it throws across in the second half. Perhaps the subject of a tumultuous production such moments begin to feel more like rambles than emotionally engaging character beats that you can properly engage with. By the time the third act arrives things dramatically change, and not exactly for the better. Things go from by-the-numbers to boring to silly. Filled with clichés the film advances into overblown, fake feeling, fights and reveals. Feeling like an inauthentic caricature it shifts to a completely different tone to anything that has been seen in the middling 80 or so minutes beforehand.
All further boosting the thought that this particular feature would potentially work better as a short film. Certainly the pacing and introduction of new ideas in the first 40 minutes of The Woman In The Window’s run-time create this impression. It’s fine, but feels as if a lot of it could be cut down and turned into an effective and more involving short film. Not losing the viewer due to lengthy scenes or lack of overall engagement, and perhaps stopping the overdone ending. Perhaps a result of a messy production – and a victim of Disney’s purchase of Fox – the finished product is a somewhat lacklustre use of talent that never quite has the tension or shocks that it would perhaps hope for.
If The Woman In The Window remained the by-the-numbers piece it starts out as it would be fine, however with an overdone final 20 minutes it falters and completely loses the viewer, after partly doing so with its lengthy scenes and monologues.