Review: Oft delayed 'The Woman in the Window' sees convoluted absurdity
Courtesy of Netflix/20th Century Studios
An absolute dumpster fire of absurdity, it’s clear why Disney couldn’t justify the marketing expenditure or flashy theatrical premiere for Joe Wright’s oft delayed adaptation of “The Woman in the Window” - a textbook studio programmer featuring Amy Adams, Gary Oldman, Julianne Moore, and Anthony Mackie - because it's terrible. Rather than take the tax write-off, Disney unloaded the pic unto Netflix who will no doubt lure audiences with its robust star-power and mysterious plot, but they’ll quickly realize they’ve been duped into an Alfred Hitchcock-inspired thriller shrouded in sheer lunacy.
Wright, an inconsistent filmmaker who can direct rock solid hits ala “Pride & Prejudice” and “Atonement” but then turn around and give us “Pan,” sinks to new career lows, taking the viewer on a nonsensical journey pieced together with zero coherence. Adams plays Anna Fox, a child psychiatrist and an agoraphobe holed up in New York City who loves ending the day with a bottle of wine and spying on the neighbors (as all rational humans do). Her therapist, played by a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it Tracey Letts, who also penned the bewildering screenplay from the novel by A.J. Finn, suggests a variety of tools and therapeutics to help rid her anxiety. But aside from those brief sessions and conversations with her basement dwelling tenant David (Wyatt Russell), Amy’s human interactions are mute.
That is until Jane (Moore), the new wife/mother next door, stops by for a drink on Halloween and the two hit it off instantly, sparking much needed reprieve from the confines of daily life. But the next evening when Amy witnesses what appears to be Jane’s murder by her sniveling husband (Oldman who has approximately five minutes of screentime) it becomes a question of reality vs. fiction. Her complaints are met with the typical: “Are you certain you saw what we clearly know you saw?” level of questioning (the two detectives played by Brian Tyree Henry and Jeanine Serralles are wasted) and Wright can’t resist playing the audience against themselves. It’s a game of cat and mouse without the mouse, and by the time all the dominoes land in place, “The Woman in the Window” has dug itself into a void that’ll have viewers asking why they chose to press play in the first place.
Nothing is shocking or revelatory and cramming exactly 19 characters into one 100-minute package equipped with a few nifty callbacks to “Rear Window” isn’t anyone’s ideal Saturday night. You feel for Amy Adams, a six (!) time Oscar nominee stuck in an endless loop of mediocre scripts trying to land the next “Arrival.” Unfortunately, “The Woman in the Window” is another stain on the resume, a film where characters act or behave illogically and one which plateaus with an impudent and hurried finale that doesn’t so much end but runs out of oxygen. Perhaps the woman in the window could take a stroll for some fresh ideas.
THE WOMAN IN THE WINDOW debuts on Netflix Friday, May 14th