If you thought that a tremendous all-star cast, a talented director in Joe Wright and engaging source material would make The Woman in the Window an exciting film, you thought wrong. After multiple delays, test screenings, and some reshoots, Netflix’s new thriller fails to deliver any amusement.
The film adaptation of the best-selling novel of the same name focuses on an agoraphobic child psychologist, Dr Anna Fox (Amy Adams), who never leaves her apartment and rarely lets visitors inside. She lives with her tenant, David (Wyatt Russell), who sometimes works around the apartment and buys groceries for both. One day, Anna witnesses something she shouldn’t have seen while keeping an eye on their neighbours, The Russell’s (Gary Oldman, Jennifer Jason Leigh, and Fred Hechinger), who seem to be the perfect family living across the street.
When you have a novel that is so well known, it is hard to adapt it to the big screen. You must match the novel’s style and blend it with the visual element to not become a complete tangled mess. That is one of the main problems that the film has; it cannot match the novel’s energy and organisation and ends up being a shambles.
On the bright side, Amy Adams is the film’s greatest feature. She gives the best performance by far and does the best with what she’s given. Julianne Moore and Bryan Tyree Henry have a likable screen presence, and a big-name ensemble also joins them, yet they all fall short of lifting their one-dimensional characters. Meanwhile, Gary Oldman chews the scenery to an absurd degree, and he does indeed spit it out. The best way to describe the performances in this film is unconvincing and amiss.
The Woman in the Window tries to replicate the claustrophobic and sinister atmosphere that lurks in Hitchcock’s masterfully crafted Rear Window (1954) but fails. There is no pulling tension, and the twists lack intrigue, to the point where you are not interested in the story. The poor script can’t provide any emotional attachment to the characters because it doesn’t develop them well and leaves the audience no reason to care for them. It is curious how such a poor script got the attention of all the stars involved in this film.
On paper, The Woman in the Window was looking to be quite a surprise at first, but then re-edits and delays happened, and that was a sign, telling people: buckle your seatbelts: this is going to be a mess. The film ended up being an unengaging, at times laughable, incoherent product. It does not even reach the point where the film can be considered “so bad it’s good”. It is so baffling that it’s atrocious.
Atticus Ross and Trent Reznor were originally hired to score the film. After the film’s release was delayed and the film went back into production, it was announced that they were replaced by Danny Elfman.