The Woman in the Window, Woeful Down the Stretch

Like most films that have endured rocky production schedules, The Woman in the Window isn’t nearly as bad as other critics would have you believe. The Blue Checks of Film Twitter love a dead horse to beat, so barring anything directed by James Cameron, they will often jump aboard the All Hate bandwagon when word reaches the digital waves that there was trouble in Hollywood paradise. Talk of reshoots or terrible test screenings is a good way to signal “hey, we’re ripe for a licking” to the wannabe filmmakers of yore. Much like last fall’s Hillbilly Elegy, another prestige-y drama starring Amy Adams, this is a mediocre film whose history is being used to kick it while it’s down. Directed by Joe Wright (Atonement, Darkest Hour), this is a big departure from his very-English brand of period trappings, eschewing romance and history for a Hitchcockian beach-read thriller. Clearly riffing on Rear Window, Adams portrays an agoraphobic, shut-in psychologist who believes she’s witness to the murder of a woman (Julianne Moore) across the street at the hands of her abusive husband (Gary Oldman). Once her erratic tenant (Wyatt Russell, continuing a slew of roles as emotionally unstable jerks) and a skeptical detective (Brian Tyree Henry) get involved, she begins to question her sanity amid new medications prescribed to her by a controlling shrink (Tracy Letts) and the teenage boy across the street contradicting her stories. She befriends the poor boy after he comes to her, clearly lonely and possibly abused, and yet he and others in the vicinity of this relatively quiet brownstone neighborhood believe her to be hallucinating. The Woman in the Window is both a whodunit and a didithappen, combining mystery and morbid thriller to attempt homage to the great master himself, if ultimately failing to do so. Subtle musical work by Danny Elfman and gorgeous lensing by Bruno Delbonnel ensure this is not a complete failure. If a film looks and sounds wonderful, how can you possibly deny that it isn’t terrible? Too often my peers review a script instead of reviewing cinema. Cinema is above all sight and sound, though hat doesn’t necessarily mean the movie is particularly good. Adams and the rest of the cast do their best given the circumstances, with Oldman going full-ham as a possibly murderous neighbor. The last thirty minutes, however, especially the last ten minutes, turn into a trashy killer thriller more akin to a STV Bundy film than a Joe Wright drama. It’s classic off-the-rails storytelling that only serves to dilute what came before it, some of which grows intriguingly psychological before the wheels come off for the sake of cheap thrills.

Grade: C

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