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The Woman in the Window Review

The Woman in the Window Review
3 10

PLOT: An agoraphobic woman (Amy Adams) who spies on her neighbours witnesses a murder.

REVIEW: Joe Wright’s THE WOMAN IN THE WINDOW had a turbulent journey to the big screen. Originally a 20th Century Fox Film, it was left in limbo when Disney acquired the company. It's based on a huge bestseller (by A. J. Finn - a controversial figure) with a script by noted playwright Tracy Letts (Killer Joe). You have to assume it was once meant to be an Oscar-caliber thriller a la Gone Girl. Suffice to say things did not work out in the film’s favor. Disney had much of the film reshot with producer Scott Rudin (another controversial guy) hiring fix-it man Tony Gilroy to re-write the film. The result was a radically changed movie. They changed it so much so that they had to scrap the Atticus Ross and Trent Reznor score, and eventually, Disney opted to sell the finished film to Netflix.

One can see why it was dumped as, despite the high pedigree, The Woman in the Window is not a good movie at all. It’s visually creative and energetic, something you can credit director Joe Wright for (even Pan - as bad as it was - had energy), but the plotting is one-note and, worse yet, the performances are over-the-top. When you have a movie that stars Amy Adams, Gary Oldman, Jennifer Jason Leigh, and Julianne Moore but the acting isn’t up to par you have to wonder what went wrong.

Like many book-to-film adaptations, what works on the page doesn’t always work on film. This reminds me a lot of The Girl on the Train, which was also based on a bestseller but wound up being a boring movie. Adams is supposed to be suicidal and agoraphobic, but never convinces as a character on the edge and/or crazy. She seems too collected. She needed to be more unhinged, with her tragic backstory coming along too late in the film to give her gravitas.

the woman in the window Amy Adams

Adams is the whole show here, and while she’s amazing 99.9% of the time, this is the one movie that doesn’t serve her well. Similarly, Julianne Moore is way over the top as a walking red herring, while Gary Oldman had very little to do as the neighbor across the street that Moore is convinced killed his wife. Again - it’s Gary Oldman as a sinister character yet he’s boring? Jennifer Jason Leigh is especially ill-served, having almost no dialogue and no big scenes. What happened here? The seams in this one are glaring. Likewise, Wyatt Russell, Brian Tyree Henry and (especially) Anthony Mackie are wasted in two-dimensional roles. 

It’s tied together by good visuals, with Bruno Delbonnel working overtime to give it a unique look. Wright tries to be too slick with his references to classic psychological thrillers that parallel the plot, but when you see clips from Hitchcock guess what? You want to go watch Hitchcock and you wonder why you’re watching such a mediocre film. Even the Danny Elfman score is assembly line.

It’s been a long time since I’ve disliked a movie so much. I think as I’ve gotten older, I’ve become much nicer as a critic giving a pass to movies I would have probably hated a few years ago. Suffice to say, if I hate something these days it’s bad. I’m not exaggerating that, had I not been reviewing it, I would have never made it to the end credits. It’s a terrible movie.

Source: JoBlo.com

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