Jennifer Jason Leigh
THE WOMAN IN THE WINDOW
After its release was delayed due to the COVID pandemic, The Woman In The Window was finally released to Netflix in 2021. The film is a Rear Window-style psychological thriller starring Amy Adams as a troubled agoraphobe who witnesses a murder from her window.
Much like 2007's Disturbia, The Woman In The Window is little more than a modern Rear Window remake. In the former, the main character was stuck at home spying on their neighbors due to being under house arrest, in the latter Amy Adams plays Dr. Anna Fox, a woman who is agoraphobic and can't bring herself to go outside. As if the Rear Window-like plot wasn't enough of a hint, the film references Alfred Hitchcock's movies throughout from Spellbound playing on Anna's television to her Marnie-style fainting spells and the character's red color palette, to name just a couple of examples out of many. The film's first act is promising as Anna is shocked to see one of her neighbors, whom she'd met and bonded with recently, get killed. From that point on, she clashes with the suspected killer, played by Gary Oldman, as people around her (and Anna herself) start to question her mental state.
There's a good Giallo in there somewhere: The Woman In The Window is at its strongest when it's putting its striking cinematography on display and toying with the reality of Anna's fears and suspicions. This is, indeed, a good-looking movie and Anna's isolation in her apartment provides a good amount of tension, especially in the film's first half. Amy Adams goes all in performance-wise with a make-up free look and a character always on the verge of a complete mental breakdown.
Adams channels psycho-biddy characters from the 1960's, minus the scary aspect, and blends that with James Stewart's performance in Vertigo to create a very interesting individual who could, at any moment, either turn out to be completely right or lose their mind entirely. The rest of the cast, save for Wyatt Russell and relative newcomer Fred Hechinger, feels underused as the likes of Julianne Moore, Gary Oldman, Anthony Mackie and Jennifer Jason Leigh barely appear. This doesn't so much make their characters mysterious as it makes them... barely anything at all.
The Woman In The Window spectacularly crumbles in its final act as the highly predictable twist is finally revealed and it tragically devolves into a Tom & Jerry-style chase and violent fight. The film, seemingly satisfied with its barely-there murder mystery, skips straight to a cartoonish battle on staircases and rooftops and, in the process, makes us laugh instead of scream or, god forbid, think. There's so much talent involved here and yet the writing is just nowhere near good enough to carry this story or deserve a first class cast like this one.
The whodunit is so thoroughly underdeveloped that, when it comes together in the end, you wonder whether even making everything just a dream in Anna's head might have been better. You wish for anything other than what was presented here and, as a result, you start to rethink the parts you liked in the movie early on. Considering how much effort was put into the performances and the cinematography, this makes the film feel like a huge disappointment.
You can only do so much with an unoriginal premise. Going the Dario Argento or even What Ever Happened To Baby Jane? route might have been a better approach for this one since, as it stands, it may look like a Hitchock film but a Hitchcock film this is not. Great cast, great shots, some good ideas but not enough there to make it anything beyond just about watchable.