SYNOPSIS: Anna Fox (Amy Adams) feels safest when she’s watching the world from behind her window. Until the Russell family moves in across the street, and she witnesses something unimaginable. The question is...what really happened?
Not to be mistaken as a remake of the Alfred Hitchcock classic Rear Window (1954), the long-delayed The Woman In the Window in fact is based on a novel of the same name by A.J. Finn. While it’s certainly star-studded and helmed by British director Joe Wright (Atonement, Darkest Hour), the result is too mediocre to make an impact.
The first ten minutes of a mystery thriller is of great importance to establish the character and the story that follows. It could either tells you what’s going to happen next or makes you wonder what’s the protagonist brewing up her sleeves?
Unfortunately, in the case of The Woman In the Window, it’s more of the former. Separated from her husband (Anthony Mackie) and young daughter, Anna Fox (Amy Adams), a former child psychologist is suffering from agoraphobia and holes up in her Manhattan apartment alone all day. With the exception of watching television and drinks, Anna develops an obsession watching the Russell family who has just moved in across the street. One day, the Russells’ teenage son, Ethan (Fred Hechinger) came over to introduce himself. Shortly after, his mom, Jane (Julianne Moore) too came over and had a drink with Anna.
And then late one night, Anna witnesses Jane being murdered in the apartment. She called the police and a pair of detectives turned up (Brian Tyree Henry and Jeanine Serralles) but somehow, that Jane Russell (now played by Jennifer Jason Leigh) is not the same Jane that Anna has met before the other night. Is Anna hallucinating due to her meds? Maybe there is a sinister murderer lurking in the shadows. Anna’s unlikeable tenant, David (Wyatt Russell) perhaps? Or Alistair Russell (Gary Oldman), the controlling tyrant of the household?
The plotting and story aside, Amy Adams certainly breathes life into the characters she played, be it Bev in Hillbilly Elegy or Louise in Arrival. Anna Fox is a character suffering from mental issues and Adams delivers a startling convincing performance above all. Wyatt Russell currently playing the most unlikeable Marvel superhero is yet again playing another unlikeable character while Gary Oldman once again gets a paycheck playing a short fuse character. Jennifer Jason Leigh is basically wasted and so is Julianne Moore.
Without giving much away, The Woman In the Window comes equipped with two big twists. The first came shortly after the murder, let’s just say the unraveling is too predictable to make much of an impact. The final twist to be honest is a bit rushed presumably due to reshoot to make it more accessible to the general audiences. This of course ends up as the movie’s greatest flaw. The tension is never heightened and the twist relied heavily on verbal exposition than anything else. Still, Wright who is known for his stylishly slick movies is able to go light on unnecessary jump scares and create a dimly-lit atmosphere to stage a sense of foreboding throughout.
The Woman In the Window is a slow-burn mystery thriller that is best enjoyed with a glass of red wine. It’s definitely decent and visually enriching. Instead of blaming Wright and Tracy Letts for adapting the story. Why not blame it on the pulpy source material?
Review by Linus Tee