HomeMovies'The Woman in the Window' is a Disappointing Roller Coaster Ride

‘The Woman in the Window’ is a Disappointing Roller Coaster Ride

Amy Adams as Anna Fox in The Woman in the Window
Photo Credit: Melinda Sue Gordon

Written by Sam Niles

The Woman In The Window stars Amy Adams as agoraphobic divorcée Anna Fox. Stuck in her four (or so) story home in New York, Anna struggles with other (though related) psychological issues stemming from a suicide attempt. She sees her psychiatrist (Tracy Letts, who penned the script from A.J. Finn’s novel) three times a week. She doesn’t enjoy these visits. He wants to talk about her obsessions, but she wants to talk about medication. She’s not interested in the medication, of course (she drinks copiously), it’s just her way of deceiving him into thinking she’s interested in her recovery.

Oh, and she sees her neighbor Jane (Julianne Moore) murdered across the street.

She accuses the husband, Alistair (Gary Oldman), of the crime. But there are just a few problems standing between Anna and justice: her psychological state, and Alistair showing the police that Jane (Jennifer Jason Leigh, credited as Jane 2) alive and well. The Woman In The Window becomes a he said/psychologically unwell protagonist said thriller that doesn’t hide its love for Rear Window. Even putting aside the central concept and the identical framing of Anna’s looking at her neighbors shots, Rear Window plays on Anna’s television within the first five minutes, as if to say, “yes, we know what we’re doing.”

Referencing influences can be tricky. Director Joe Wright understands it’s not enough to just say, “remember that thing you love? Here it is again.” But he also understands that there is an appropriate, nostalgic fondness when they’re done correctly. At its worst, throwbacks like this can register as someone beating a dead horse. At its best, it can register as seeing an old friend. With The Woman In The Window, it’s a mix of both, but the old friend feeling more or less wins out.

Both Wright and Adams give their all. Wright embraces the geography of Anna’s massive house, as if to sympathize with her agoraphobia: why would she need to step outside when she has the whole world in her home? He answers this question with tight close-ups of Anna that keep her in the foreground and flaunt the offset environment behind her. Contrasting the luscious beauty we’re used to, these moments tell us Anna isn’t as content as she’d like us to believe.

This is Anna’s core conflict. A child psychologist, she seems to like helping people, and takes on a noble “I won’t rest until this killer is behind bars” attitude, when she can’t even take her medication without a glass of wine. It’s an effective characterization that Adams masters. Her intensity when dealing with the disbelieving cops would be nothing without her drunken laughter while watching classic movies. “I’m not insane, I’m just a regular gal who likes drinking wine and watching my favorite movies with my cat,” is a lie she tells herself—and often. With this characterization, the film doesn’t just ask if she’s trying to stop a crime that never happened (though it does ask that). It asks if she’s even capable of bringing justice to a crime that did happen.

It’s unfortunate to note that the beating a dead horse feeling kicks in a little by the end, and it does so in two ways. The first is with its climax, which is never bad, sometimes striking, and mostly serviceable. But the second way is, oddly, from the simple fact that the movie ends.

While watching The Woman in the Window, you’re compelled by the thrills, the drama, and Adams’s performance. But when it ends, you’ll think, “the roller coaster is over.” The issue is that the experience, while it happens, doesn’t feel like a roller coaster. It feels like a great movie, like a deep dive of great significance, like you’ve climbed Everest. When in reality, it’s a thrilling, well done time-waster. If you go in expecting that, you won’t be disappointed. You might be taken in by the illusion of climbing Everest, and there’s nothing wrong with that. But just know that reality will most certainly kick in once the movie ends.

The Woman in the Window is now streaming on Netflix.

Pop-Break Staff
Pop-Break Staffhttps://thepopbreak.com
Founded in September 2009, The Pop Break is a digital pop culture magazine that covers film, music, television, video games, books and comics books and professional wrestling.

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