I’m not familiar with AJ Finn’s 2018 novel of the same name as the film that just go released this year. I’m aware is somewhat along the lines of recent lurid female-centric thriller novels like Girl on the Train or Gone Girl but beyond that I approached the film mostly blind.
My primarily interest in the film was that the film was a nominal twist on the premise of Alfred Hitchcock’s beloved 1954 classic Rear Window wherein an immobile man with a broken leg solves a neighbor’s murder by observantly watching his neighbors out his window.
Woman in the Window plays around with the premise alittle by replacing the original lead with a woman suffering from agoraphobia. She’s afraid of leaving her home and only interacts with the outside world in bursts as neighbors, family and doctors visit her house from time to time.
In a way, it’s a fairly timely premise. We’ve all collectively spent the last year living and working out of our homes during the COVID pandemic. A film like this should hit pretty hard in light of that.
Surprisingly the film is not being well received. The movie was bombed by critics upon release on Netflix. It was originally supposed to screen in late 2019 but got delayed for re-edits after poor test screenings and then sold to Netflix seemingly to recoup some of the costs. Frankly I can see why the studio dumped the movie. Woman in the Window is a fairly stale, lifeless drama mascarading as a psychological thriller film.
That’s strange because there’s a weird amount of money and effort on display. The movie clearly had a budget as the cast included a lot of huge names like Amy Adams, Julianna Moore, Anthony Mackie, Jennifer Jason Leigh and Gary Oldman. It’s directed by Joe Wright, director of some very wonderful films like Pride and Prejudice and Darkest Hour.
Sadly the result is a massive and bloated film that feels like it overspent on a simple premise. All the talent and beautiful production design just serves to highlight how lurid and empty the film actually is.
Anna Fox’s (Amy Adams) solipsistic personal journey to overcome her emotional disorder and regain her grasp on reality rings hollow. Maybe it’s the movie’s rootlessness and the fact that it never gives its audience a grasp on the situation enough for us to care dramatically or that it doesn’t fully give the audience a reason to want to be pulled into this played out premise but there’s nothing to keep a viewer sucked into the plot.
Maybe Woman in the Window is worth the watch solely because it’s free on Netflix but in so far as it offers anything you can’t get better from another film it’s earns a hard pass from me. I had a hard time finishing it and I can’t imagine most anyone else is going to find themselves gripped by it.