The Woman in the Window (2021)
On paper, The Woman in the Window looks promising initially. You’ve got an all-star cast and the picture knows it’s treading on a well-beaten path with direct references to Rear Window and others. I bet it’s studied these other works to blow our minds!
Child psychologist Anna Fox (Amy Adams) lives alone in her Manhattan apartment and never leaves due to her agoraphobia. When the Russell family moves in across the street, she befriends Jane (Julianne Moore) and her son, Ethan (Fred Hechinger). Shortly after, she sees Jane murdered through her upstairs window. When Anna calls the police, Jane (this time played by Jennifer Jason Leigh) shows up fine. Is Anna’s daily combination of heavy medication and alcohol causing hallucinations, or is Alistair Russell (Gary Oldman) hiding something?
Don’t see this movie for the cast. Well, I should just say “Don’t see this movie” but one of its main draws is the star power. Anthony Mackie and Jennifer Jason Leigh) are so not in the film it’s puzzling to see them in the credits at the end. The rest of the performances are fine but plot-wise, this mystery is a jumble.
The direction by Joe Wright does the uninventive screenplay no favors. When Anna calls the police, detectives Little (Brian Tyree Henry) and Norelli (Jeanine Serralles) answer the call. He’s sympathetic, she’s so abrasive you’ll wonder if she isn’t the murderer. Then, they stand by as Alistair barges in screaming. Isn’t he trespassing? Why is he there? They can't have gone to his place first or the ending makes no sense. You'll see so many illogical decisions you'll be reaching the wine bottle Anna is always clutching to smash it over her head, or yours.
What’s happening with the Jane Russell thing is easily decipherable. Like it thinks we’re stupid easy. The clues along the way are unmissable; as if they were planted not because someone really would lose an earring there or scream so loud they could be heard across the street but so the movie could happen. Her condition may not be her fault but come on. She keeps making dumb mistakes that will allow the killer to get away with it (assuming there even is a killer) AND get herself stabbed (assuming there even is a killer of course).
The one credit I'll give The Woman in the Window is for the conclusion I didn’t see coming. In my defense, it's a ludicrous revelation. Even with the unreliable narrator, there’s no way this would happen the way it does. No matter your goodwill towards the film, you won't buy the lame, conventional wrap-up, complete with a "where'd they go?!" teleport scare.
The Woman in the Window isn’t the worst movie 2021 will offer. The mystery - as easy to figure out as it is - does maintain your interest. Some intrigue comes from bad direction that makes characters seem like suspects when they aren’t intended to be, but I’ll take interesting bad over boring bad any day. My advice? Skip until the very end of the credits, where they tell you what clips of other - better movies - are shown throughout. Watch those instead. (May 30, 2021)
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